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By Everard
Virgin Galactic’s Rocket Man The ace pilot risking his life to fulfill Richard Branson’s billion-dollar quest to make commercial space travel a reality — about Mark Stucky in The New Yorker, August 20th 2018

It's a good old-fashioned (long!) article. Good pics too.
At thirteen, he was captivated by another National Geographic story, about Californians who had taken up the new sport of hang gliding. The author described taking off from a hill above Newport Beach: “What can I tell you about this first step that encounters nothing solid? There’s nothing to it. This upward stride causes the jaw to drop and the mind to cease its disciplined churning.” Stucky persuaded his dad to split the cost of a glider. He made his first flight on May 15, 1974, near Wilson Lake, Kansas.

And for those who remember the 1986 movie Top Gun...
Stucky also was a showboater. In 1985, on a patrol mission over the Sea of Japan, he spotted a Soviet bomber in the distance, caught up to it, flipped upside down, got close enough that only a few dozen feet separated the cockpits, and snapped a photograph.

Dayem, this is a time machine:
...and Branson wanted to celebrate. He and his family, several publicists, a production crew, journalists, and such celebrities as Harrison Ford and Sarah Brightman gathered at the hangar...
That's Harrison Ford of Star Wars (1977) and Blade Runner (1982) (and the new Blade Runner movie too) and Sarah Brightman of Hot Gossip (dance group on Top of the Pops BBC series) and her song I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper...


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By Everard
An attempt at tow-launching in Kansas in 1978, using a team of athletes with ropes to haul him into the air, went wrong:
The sound of that aluminum [tube] sliding along a thumb-sized electrified steel steel cable is not a sound I ever want to hear again.
And here he uses the abbreviation TIWTIWGD for ‘There I was. I thought I was going to die’:
Final score was five TIWTIWGD incidents in the span of about twenty seconds, which equates to a rate of 900 per hour.
— Mark Stucky in Hang Gliding & Paragliding, May 2008

https://issuu.com/us_hang_gliding_parag ... cs/0805web

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