a reply to: stealthyaroura
Very cool! I met Alan Brown once at Edwards Air Force Base. He is a really nice, down-to-earth guy.
It's true that you never know who you might meet. I used to work for an airline, so I spent nine years at Burbank Airport and about a year at Los
Angeles (LAX). As a result, I met lots of well-known people including actors (Jimmy Stewart, Ernest Borgnine, Delta Burke, Tom Selleck, Annette
Funicello, and many more), comedians (George Burns, Sinbad), musicians (John Denver), and political figures (Henry Kissinger, Oliver North, Lt. Gen.
Forrest S. McCartney). But I was more interested in talking to the astronauts (Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, Tom Stafford, T.K. Mattingly, Sally
Ride), cosmonauts (Alexei Leonov, Valeri Kubasov), and test pilots (which brings me to a fun story).
One day at Burbank, I was taking my lunch break in the back office, which had a large window facing the runway, the edge of which was a mere 180 feet
away (I know, it doesn't sound plausible, but the window glass was literally the only thing separating me from the southern edge of the taxiway and
there was only a 50-foot gap between the north edge of the taxiway and the south edge of the runway; you can check it out on Google Earth). It was a
great place to watch the Janet 737 flights fly in and out on their runs between the Skunk Works and Groom Lake. So, the phone rings and it's a guy
telling me he just flew in from San Diego and didn't get his luggage. He had to get going immediately, and asked if he could file a report with me.
I said, "Sure, first I need your name." He responded, "Louis W. Schalk." Of course, I recognized the name of the first man to fly the Lockheed A-12
at Area 51, so I blurted out, "Lou Schalk, the test pilot?" He seemed surprised at my reaction and said, "How did you know?" Since he was staying
nearby, with the widow of another famous test pilot, I promised to personally deliver his bag after it arrived. On the way, I stopped at home to pick
up a photo of the A-12 for him to autograph. Lou also gave me an autographed commemorative bottle of wine that had been specially labeled for an
event at the Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale.
Another time, I delivered a bag to a bigwig inside the Skunk Works Engineering building, a windowless multi-story structure that looked as if it was
probably surrounded by a built-in Faraday cage. I didn't get any further than the front lobby, but it was still pretty cool.