Hidden (Father) Figures
The movie Hidden Figures triggered memories from the life my father lived and his relationship to NASA and the space program.
On September 26, 1936, Gilbert Ragsdale Hunter was born in Decatur, Alabama. He would go on to be one of the smartest students in his school..and the world. In the 3rd grade, Alabama Schools conducted testing to determine the IQ of students, his came back at xxx, “a few points down from Einstein.
In 1957 he applied and 1958 was accepted into the Avatiation Officer Candidate Program, leaving his job at Coca-Cola Company to be sworn into the Navy in May 1958. The following Saturday night we started the AOC program which was 4 months of preflight training (may through Sept) and then in October, started flight training. It was primary training first from October to January – we did solo and then acrobatics. “I think it was 28 flights.” In January of 1959 I went to Whiting Filed for the stage called TPA Transition Position and Acrobatics into the T28 Aircraft which is the larger one – more powerful. We called a toy because it was more fun to fly. T34 we learned on initially. In March of 1959, I went to Naval Air Station Memphis in Millington Tennessee to learn instrument flying and then Whiting Field for gunnery training in the T28. After that I went to Saufley Field in Pensacola for FCLP Field Carrier Landing Practice. You had to learn enough precision to put the plane down in a spot on a carrier but the practice was done on a field. If you managed that ok, they sent you to the carrier. so i went to the carrier which was the USS Antedum on 27th of July, 1959 in the Gulf of Mexico. And that was the completion of basic training and I got orders to go to advanced training in NAS Corpus Christi Texas and was trained in multi engine aircraft first in instruments, then in carrier landings in a multi engine aircraft which was the S2F plane. On December 2, 1959, I went back to the carrier and then the final part of the training was 5 weeks of navigation training in the P2V, which was a multi engine patrol plane and I completed that at the end of January 1960 and received my wings February 2, 1960 and that was the completion of my training. After which I got a month of leave and reported to my first duty station on February 28, 1960 to Putoxic River Maryland to the unit AEWTULANT (VW11 – V stood for aircraft that was heavier than air – planes with wings not helicopters and the W stood for warning) Airborne Early Warning Training Unit – Atlantic. I was there for 2 months being trained on the Super Constellation which was called WV2. At the completion of that I got orders to AEWRON – Airborne Early Warning Squadron 11 and I was in that squadron in Argentia, New Foundland Naval Station for a year and a half until the end of October 1961 and then back to AEWTULANT from November 1961 until July of 1962no longer as a student but now as a staff pilot. Part of our mission was to train the crews going to Newfoundland. An additional part was to provide support to the astronauts that were being launched into space. Support mission for the space program.
While there, I was the assigned I there until I was called to the squadron in Spain called FAIRECONRON TWO (VQ 2 – Aircraft that is heavier than air and the Q for Recon) and that stood for Fleet Air Intelligence Reconaissiance Squadron 2 and I was in that squad for 3 years. July 1962 to July 1965. In Roda, Spain for 3 years. Much of that time I was in Key West on the Cuban Missle Crises. In December of 1962 until March of 63. Back in the summer June of 63 to August of 63 and back for the whole summer of 64 (May to October). BOQ Bachelor Officer Quarters.