Scot set to be chief test pilot for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceliner
David MacKay with Neil Armstrong
THIS is the moment the first man on the moon met the Scot who is all set to be the worlds first commercial astronaut.
Scots test pilot David Mackay, from Sutherland, said it was a dream come true to meet legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong – and hopes to join him in the ranks of space hero Scots.
The icon, who stepped onto the moon in 1969, is famously proud of his Scots heritage and was welcomed as a hero when he visited the Armstrong family seat in the Borders three years after his space flight.
And now former RAF flier turned airline test pilot Mackay, 54, is set to join the ranks of astronauts as the chief test pilot for Richard Bransons spaceliner Virgin Galactic.
The men met at a special conference on the future of space flight in California, where Mackay is based, and he said it was a great honour to meet his fellow space Scot.
It was a great honour to meet him – Neil Armstrong was one of my boyhood heroes and he was a very likeable and friendly chap.
It was all very quick but Id love to get the chance to talk to him more, and now that we have made contact hopefully we could have the chance to catch up again.
Im a great believer in learning lessons and his experience is tremendous.
He is a very bright man, very sharp.
Its great that he has got the Scottish connection and I believe he is very proud of it.
David is leading the test flight programme at the Mojave base and hopes to head into space with the next near to 18 months as the first commercial space flight in the world.
He is working with fellow Scots astronaut Brian Binnie, from Aberdeen, who became the first Scot in space when he flew the SpaceShipOne craft into space in 2004.
Binnie and Mackay are now working to get the 125,000 ticket flights up and running as soon as possible.
On December 6, 2009 I attended our annual conference for Virgin Galactic Accredited Space Agents and met David MacKay. I even have a photo of us together, which I will post ( hopefully, if I can figure out this blogging software ). So, in MY photo David is to my left, your right if you’re looking at us. I’m tempted to Photoshop it with the photo in this article to make it look like David, Neil, and I are chatting it up a bit (did I succeed in sounding British or Scot?). Nah, I’ll settle for 6 degrees of separation and not a 360 degrees of deception. Wanna ticket to ride?
Sometimes a person gets lucky and sometimes there’s double luck! The Kansas City Star featured a story about me representing Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Great ego fluff for me and mega special for Great Getaways! Post 1 in the Luck Column!!!
The second stroke of luck was getting to meet Lee Hill Kavanaugh, a features writer for the Kansas City Star. She is a delight and oh so interesting! A multi-degreed talent, Lee spent a few years sailing the oceans aboard some legendary cruise ships, entertaining guests with her music. She and her artist, musician husband, have two children.
Lee is a woman of many interests and passions and I look forward to getting to know her better. Here’s her story about me, which was prominently placed on the FRONT PAGE, by the way:
Click on the link below to read Lee’s story about my passion for space travel and Virging Galactic:
In 2009 I attended the gala unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship, the VSS Enterprise. 850 people from around the world gathered in Mojave, California to be part of that historic moment, the beginning of a new frontier of the consumer travel industry. As the mother ship, with the spaceship securely attached, rolled into the viewing area, I remember the whole crowd became silent, in anticipation and awe. When Governors Schwarzenagger and Richardson joined Sir Richard Branson in christening the ship, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I realized I was experiencing a significant milestone in history. Years from now, when my toddler-aged grandsons are older and space travel more commonplace, I hope the boys will brag, “My grandma was at the christening of the first consumer spaceship!” Then again, by that time, rather than the exception, people traveling in Space will be the norm and its beginning might be a long-ago faded memory. How cool would that be? Either way, Virgin Galactic gave me an incredible life experience. Now, if I sell 10 flights, I’ll be eliglble to fly aboard Virgin Galactic! Ready to be part of my group of 10?
What are your thoughts about Space flight?
Ready to see the world from a different perspective? Let me help you reserve a seat aboard a Virgin Galactic’s Suborbital Space flight! Talk about a gift that will be remembered!
Below is a video of the recent dedication ceremony at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Enjoy!
Watch a video of the latest test flights! Every time I watch it, I get so excited! By the way, did you know that the Virgin Galactic Hanger Facility at Spaceport America was recently dedicated? Remember, if you want to experience a suborbital space flight aboard Virgin Galactic, contact me, Barbara@greatgetaway.com
Flown to 45,000ft
Flown 6.1 hours in a single flight
Pulling g’s at altitude up to 2.5g’s
Practiced putting the wheels up and down at various altitudes and speeds
Practiced a stall – meaning they shut down the engines and re-start them inflight.
Flown to a peak speed of 340 KTAS with the landing gear both up and down. This is approximately 630kph/390mph
For those interested KTAS stands for Knots True Air Speed and measures the speed of an aircraft relative to undisturbed air. You can find out more about this on Wikipedia.