After a long weekend, went tubing this morning with The Right Stuff on the video screen. Thinking about it, was an odd juxtaposition of me in a tube at high altitude while watching a film about breaking the sound barrier and space travel.

I’d seen the film before but years ago – this time watched it “flying stationery” and was focused on more than Sam Shepard chewing gum as Chuck Yeager. Something about the silent hero type…

While I watched I thought how amazing it was to grow up during the 50’s and 60’s with the space race in the headlines and the growth of television as a real-time reporter.

And also incredible the time line – from the Wright Brothers propeller flight (1903) to Yeager breaking the sound barrier (1947) was about 44 years. From the sound barrier to the first space flight (1961) about 17 years. From Alan Shepard to the first walk on the moon (1969) was about 8 years. From Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to the first space station (1971) was about 2 years.

Aside from the Wright brothers and the first break in the sound barrier, I remember all these events and where I was when I saw them or read about them.

About halfway thru the film it was time to disembark from the tube. As I sat up, I remarked to the young technician who knew the film, “It was so incredibly amazing to grow up during that time.”

As he wheeled the blood pressure machine over to me, he said, “Yeah – I was just talking about that with my grandfather…”

From “amazing” to “old” at the speed of sound.

Dang kids…won’t stay off my lawn either…

Best lines in the film – at least the first half – when Yeager is about to climb into the X-1 with a couple of busted ribs and plans to bust the sound barrier, he turns to his flight engineer, Jack Ridley:

“Hey Ridley, ya got any Beeman’s?
“Yeah, I think I got me a stick.”
“Loan me some will you? I’ll pay you back later…”

By the way, Ridley was played by Levon Helm…yep, that Levon Helm…

Update Steve Layman takes it further with an excerpt from Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff

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