shuttle2AN ASTRONAUT: It was winter when he landed at Colorado State University—many years ago now—a Civil Engineer alumni. His title: Kent V. Rominger, Captain USN (now retired) & NASA Astronaut (former). In those days, to have a few NOT public moments with an astronaut was rare. I served as Kent’s—he insisted—usher during his campus visit. I asked: “So Kent, which is more thrilling for you: flying a jet off the deck of an aircraft carrier or piloting the NASA Columbia Shuttle?

Astronaut Rominger’s answer—as I mentioned—is NOT public. So, why bring this up at all? Because in many ways we emulate astronauts in that we must also calibrate and investigate our parameters in order to have the best chance of survival: they in outer space and we in Earth’s atmosphere.

A THOUGHT: Yes, there are those among us, like Rominger, who achieve great zeniths in an attempt to understand the unanswerable. And, we who never leave the gravitational pull of Earth also endeavor to understand. And also like the astronauts if we calculate wrongly there are consequences.

[Kent Rominger: Flew as pilot on STS-73 (1995), STS-80 (1996) and STS-85 (1997) and was crew commander on STS-96 (1999) and STS-100 (2001). A veteran of five space flights, Rominger logged over 1,600 hours in space. He also logged over 7,000 flying hours in over 35 types of aircraft and 685 carrier landings.]


Today I saw a Hawk soar above the acres of brown and green fields near my home. I knew his mission: breakfast. Yet the way in which he floated on air currents and flapped when he needed to turn and dove when he saw his prey… Well, that was just pure symmetry in motion. It got me to thinking that if I could fly like a Hawk might I see our troubled earth in a different way?

Approximating: Like the Hawk, we should each look pointedly at our changing world!

  • Would those homes I fly over with foreclosure signs in yards matter less? Or might their desertedness beg the question: Who turned their face while the laughter echoed and kept it turned when the eviction notices arrived?
  • Soaring will I see those who knew they could lose their life but still gathered by the thousands to reject the past in the world of our Arab sisters and brothers. If I dove nearer would I detect any change?
  • I love to rest high above the ground, sometimes in Rosewood trees. I heard the music in its branches long before the wood was honed and formed into guitars. Why, I wonder, is Rosewood so controversial at a time when we most require music to reach our worried souls?
  • I don’t share my meal with other hawks until I’m full or when I have babies. When I swoop down I see this is true below.
  • I smell odors in the sky above Japan that weren’t there before. Other hawks plummet to the ground and lie in the debris. Yet, the Japanese people still toil to build a new life for themselves and the Hawks.
  • We hawks like it that rats and pestilence invade below; providing more variety to feast on or complain about.
  • As I sit atop power poles, I pivot my head to see what is coming and what is no longer there.
  • My wings sense the changing seasons and I know I must store up my strength for what is yet to come.
  • Life and death play out below me and I’m glad my days are only about survival. I’ve never been close enough to the ground to see if it is so for others.