John M. Conroy, developer of the Guppy family, with NASA's Werner von Braun, during construction of the Super Guppy at Van Nuys Airport, Calif.
|reassuringly smooth. We let the Guppy roll out to a dead stop on the long lake bed. There were six huge sighs of relief. The absolute silence of the desert was a serenade in blessed contrast to seventeen terrifying and almost endless minutes of near-disaster. Within five weeks, the Guppy's upper superstructure had been re- designed and rebuilt at Edwards AFB. Joe Walker, who later was killed when his F-104 collided in midair with the XB-70, made her final acceptance flight tests for NASA. The Super Guppy has now logged more than one million miles. She and her little sister, the "Pregnant Guppy," have carried a billion dollars worth of space equipment for NASA, and undoubtedly helped to speed up the US timetable for conquest of the moon. The Super Guppy's most precious cargo was the lunar-excursion module Eagle and the command ship Columbia flown by Apollo-11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong, "Buzz" Aldrin, and Mike Collins in their moon-landing mission of July 1969. From inauspicious beginnings, great things often grow. For seventeen very long minutes on September 25, 1965, the Super Guppy's future looked uncertain, indeed. But who could now say that she is not -quite literally-a great airplane?|
|P. G. Smith retired from the Air Force in 1965 as a lieutenant colonel. During his twenty two years of active duty as a pilot, test pilot, and operations officer, he accumulated 12,000 hours flying time in many types of aircraft. He is now Vice President for Marketing and Assistant to the President of Conroy Aircraft Corp., Goleta, Calif.|
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