January 6, 2018 9:10 p.m.- John Watts Young(September 24, 1930– January 5, 2018) was an Americanastronaut,naval officerandaviator,test pilot, andaeronautical engineer, who became theninth person to walk on the Moonas Commander of theApollo 16mission in 1972. Young enjoyed the longest career of any astronaut, becoming the first person to fly six space missions (with seven launches) over the course of 42 years of activeNASAservice.He was the only person to have piloted, and been commander of, four different classes of spacecraft:Gemini, theApollo Command/Service Module, theApollo Lunar Module, and theSpace Shuttle.
In 1965, Young flew on thefirst manned Gemini mission, and commanded another Gemini mission the next year. In 1969 duringApollo 10, he became the first person to fly solo around the Moon. He drove theLunar Roving Vehicleon theMoon’s surface duringApollo 16, and is one of only three people to haveflown to the Moontwice. He also commanded two Space Shuttle flights, includingits first launch in 1981, and served asChief of the Astronaut Officefrom 1974–1987. Young retired from NASA in 2004. He died on January 5, 2018.
— Young, describing an air-to-air missile test in which he and another pilot approached each other at Mach 3 – risking destruction of both aircraft.
After graduating fromGeorgia Techin 1952, Young entered theUnited States Navythrough theNavy ROTCand was commissioned on June 6, 1952, as anensign.He served as fire control officer on the destroyerUSSLawsuntil June 1953 and completed a tour in theSea of Japanduring theKorean War. Following this assignment, he was sent to flight training. In January 1954, he was designated a Navy helicopter pilot.After receiving hisaviator wingson December 20, 1954, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 103 (VF-103) for four years, flyingGrumman F-9 CougarsfromUSSCoral SeaandVought F-8 CrusadersfromUSSForrestal.
After training at theUnited States Naval Test Pilot Schoolin 1959 with the Class 23, Young was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center atNaval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for three years. His test projects included evaluations of theXF8U-3 Crusader IIIandF-4 Phantom IIfighter weapons systems. In 1962, he set two world time-to-climb records while flying his Phantom II, attaining 3,000 meters (9,843ft) from a standing start in 34.523 seconds and 25,000 meters (82,021ft) from a standing start in 227.6 seconds.He also served as maintenance officer of Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143) from April to September 1962.
Fellow astronautCharles Boldendescribed Young andRobert “Hoot” Gibsonas the two best pilots he had met during his aviation career: “Never met two people like them. Everyone else gets into an airplane; John and Hoot wear their airplane. They’re just awesome”.Young retired from the Navy as aCaptainin September 1976, after 25 years.
He logged more than 15,275 hours flying time inprops,jets,helicopters, androcket jets; more than 9,200 hours inT-38s; and 835 hours inspacecraftduring six space flights.
We’re saddened to learn of the passing of Capt (Ret) John Young. In addition to being known as the “astronaut’s astronaut”, flying 2 Gemini, 2 Apollo, 2 Shuttle flights and being one of the 12 humans to walk on the moon, Captain Young was a graduate of the U. S. Naval Test Pilot School and lifetime member of thePatuxent River Naval Air MuseumAssociation.
Images via Patuxent River Naval Air Museum Facebook