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Home > May 2014 > Astronaut and Pilot Joe Edwards Visits Intrepid Museum
Astronaut and Pilot Joe Edwards Visits Intrepid Museum
Posted: 5/7/2014 9:28:20 AM

Joe Edwards
Standing on Intrepid’s flight deck, Joe Edwards—former aviator, test pilot and astronaut—and Intrepid Museum volunteer Jim Eng reunited through the aircraft that brought them together: the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. Joe and Jim used to work together in the 1980s, while Joe was flying F-14s as a test pilot and during combat operations in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf, and Jim was a human engineer at Grumman working on building F-14s.

Their friendship has grown over the years and came full circle on Tuesday, as they shared a few stories with students from Nysmith School for the Gifted in Herndon, Virginia, including Joe’s daughter.

Stories like when Joe landed an open cockpit F-14 on an aircraft carrier with a broken arm, collapsed lung and a blinded right eye, without communications or flight instruments after the radome separated from his airplane. Joe was awarded the U.S. Navy's first peacetime Distinguished Flying Cross (one of 63 awarded by the Navy since World War II) for that life-threatening incident.

“It was a remarkably well designed airplane,” says Joe of the F-14. “These guys [Jim and his colleagues] were great engineers and none worked harder than Jim.” In fact, Joe flew the F-14 Tomcat that is on display at the Intrepid Museum.

After flying more than 4,000 hours in more than 25 different aircraft, Joe was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1994. He piloted the last American crewmember to the Russian Mir space station and holds world records for flying the greatest mass in earth orbit and was part of the record number of humans in space simultaneously. Joe was also the pilot who flew the closest flying maneuvers ever attempted around an orbiting space station, in the orbiter Endeavour.

“I was there with my family when Joe launched into space,” Jim recalls. “I was very proud of him.”

It is individuals like Jim and Joe who help inspire our youth – a key part of the Museum’s mission. It’s through formal and informal talks like this one that we are able to advance innovation and demonstrate to young people what is possible.