CAPT Schirra passed way at the age of 84, in LaJolla, California, Thursday, 03 May 2007, after being hospitalized for a heart attack. He was earlier diagnosed with cancer.
Mission Logos for Sigma VII, Gemini VI, and Apollo VII
Became only the second Naval Aviator to log 1,000 hours in a jet aircraft.
Exchange pilot with the US Air Force, flying 90 combat missions during the Korean Conflict. Credited with one MIG-15 shoot down, and damaging two others.
During his tour at NOTS tested weapons systems such as the Sidewinder Missile, flight testing of the F7U-3 Cutlass, and the F-4 Phantom.
One of the original seven American Astronauts
03 October 1962 he became the fifth American in Space, piloting the Mercury 8(Sigma 7).
15 December 1965, made his second flight into space in Gemini 6A with Tom Stafford, rendezvousing with astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell Jr. in Gemini 7. This was the first rendezvous of two manned spacecraft in earth orbit. The two vehicles, however were not capable of actually docking.
11 October 1968, he became the first man to fly in space three times on his flight as commander of Apollo 7, the first manned flight in the Apollo Program.
During the Apollo flight, he caught what was perhaps the most famous cold in NASA histroy. He took Actifed to relieve his symptoms upon the advice of the flight surgeon. Years later he became a spokeman for Actifed and would appear in television commericals advertising the product.
During later Apollo Missions he served as a news consultant, often being interviewed by Walter Cronkite on CBS News.
Only person to fly all three original Space Programs, Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.
Wally's Favorite Flight Milestones:
Falling asleep on the way to the launch pad.
Answering Slayton on the onboard voice recorder "YBYSAIA"
Solving the coolant valve settings during the first orbit. Slowly adjusting.
Preflight work on reading yaw alttitude. This saved Cooper on MA-9.
Blew hatch on carrier deck and wounded right hand from the recoil of the push button, proving that Grissom did not blow the hatch on his flight.
First rendezvous ever.
The first "Beat Army" banner in space.
The first UFO reported from space with bells and the harmonica rendition of "Jingle Bells"
Active August 16, 1948 - September 30, 1994
Country United States
Branch United States Navy
Type Fleet replacement squadron
Part of Inactive
Fighter F-8 Crusader
Fighter Squadron 124 (VF-124) was a fleet replacement squadron of the United States Navy. Known as the Gunfighters, they were active from 1958 through 1994. The squadron's task was the training of pilots for the F-8 Crusader and later the F-14 Tomcat.
VF-124 was established on 16 August 1948 as VF-53 and became VF-124 at NAS Moffet Field on 11 April 1958 due to a need for an increased number of flight training squadrons, itself necessary because of introduction of swept wing fighters into Navy service. VF-124 had three missions assigned, initial training of F-8 Crusader pilots, bringing them to a standard where they were ready to join a fleet squadron, refresher training for aviators returning to the Pacific Fleet, and also providing maintenance training for ground personnel on the F-8.
This last mission is often overlooked, but was a crucial part of the training provided by a Fleet Readiness Squadron. In addition to these training roles, VF-124 maintained its instructor crews as combat ready pilots in case of national emergency. Flying the F8U-1, TV-2 and F9F-8T the Gunfighters won the Safety S awards for 1958 and 1959.
After three years at Moffet Field VF-124 moved to Naval Air Station Miramar which would become their life for the rest of its existence. F-8 training continued throughout the years and by 1970 VF-124 became the Pacific Fleet training squadron for the new F-14 Tomcat. VF-124 stopped training F-8 pilots in August 1972 and responsibility for the small number F-8’s left was handed over to VFP-63. VF-124 received their first F-14A’s on October 8, 1972. A few days later the two first active fleet F-14 squadrons, VF-1 and VF-2 were commissioned. In December 1973, US Marine Corps officers reported to VF-124 to start training as instructors. USMC involvement continued until 1976 when it was decided that the F-14 was too expensive for the USMC to operate. The first set of replacements pilots trained by VF-124 took to sea in December 1974, flying day and night carrier qualifications of the deck of USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).
n 1976 personnel from the Imperial Iranian Air Force arrived to begin training on the F-14 until the overthrow of the Shah three years later. As a new decade began the role of reconnaissance was introduced to the F-14 with the TARPS pod. VF-124 began to teach air and ground crews how to operate the pod. By December 1988 VF-124 had trained 1502 aircrew, over 14.400 maintenance personnel and flown over 153,193 flight hours and VF-124 also achieved 124 days without any Foreign Object Damage.
With the introduction of the improved F-14D Super Tomcat, VF-124 was assigned the role of training air and ground personnel on the new aircraft and the first F-14D was accepted on November 16, 1990, with four aircraft undertaking the first fleet F-14D carrier qualifications on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on October 2, 1991.
On March 11, 1993 a VF-124 F-14 made the final landing on USS Ranger (CVA-61), Lieutenant Mark A. Garcia and Lieutenant Tim Taylor completed the carrier’s 330,683rd landing. With the downsizing of the F-14 squadrons in the early 1990s the Navy’s training squadrons were reduced and VF-124 was disestablished in September 1994 and the responsibility of all F-14 training went to VF-101. VF-124 would operate the F-14A Tomcat and the F-14D Super Tomcat as all F-14B Tomcats were flown by the Atlantic Fleet Squadrons.