Sharing a storied career of space flight | News | – Antelope Valley Press

MOJAVE Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot David Mackay has flown aircraft at opposite ends of the aerospace spectrum, from a 1909 Bleriot to the rocket-powered SpaceShipTwo, and all manner of aircraft in between.

Having added commercial astronaut wings to his tally earlier this year, Mackay will share stories of 110 years of flying machines on Saturday at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The presentation will begin at 11 a.m. in the Board Room, in the Administration Building at the end of Airport Boulevard.

Mackays piloting career dates to 1977, when he learned to fly while studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Glasgow. Following graduation, he joined the Royal Air Force, flying the Harrier GR3 before being selected as an exchange student to the French Test Pilot School.

His test pilot career with the Royal Air Force included testing the Harrier GR7 and Sea Harrier, among others. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for his work commanding Fast Jet Test Flight in 1992.

For two years before retiring from the Royal Air Force in 1995, Mackay was an instructor at the Empire Test Pilot School. He then joined Virgin Atlantic, piloting Boeing 747s and Airbus 340s.

Having evaluated the SpaceShipOne flight simulator in early 2004, Mackay joined the development team for its successor SpaceShipTwo with Virgin Galactic fill time in 2009 and became chief pilot in 2011.

Mackay has more than 50 flights in the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, and five powered flights in SpaceShipTwo, including the most recent flight to cross into space on Feb. 22.

Mackay, together with pilot Mike Sooch Masucci and Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses, received commercial astronaut wings for that flight, in which they reached 295,007 feet altitude (55.87 miles or 89.9 kilometers), crossing the 50-mile altitude boundary that the FAA uses to define space.

It was a wonderful flight, Mackay said following his first foray to space, adding it flew much better than the simulator. For me, my family, this is kind of the end of a long journey, both literally and metaphorically.

During 22 years as a historic aircraft display pilot in the United Kingdom, Mackay had the opportunity to fly the worlds oldest original flying aircraft, the 1909 Bleriot.

He has logged more than 14,000 hours of flight in some 150 different types of aircraft.

Mackays presentation is part of Plane Crazy Saturday, a monthly gathering of aviation enthusiasts presented by the Mojave Transportation Museum Foundation.

The free, family-friendly educational event features a flight line filled with aircraft of varied types and vintages, available for visitors to see up-close.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission to the flight line with its displays is through the Voyager restaurant, in the Administration building. The restaurant opens for breakfast at 8 a.m.

Dogs and other animals, other than service animals, are not permitted on the flight line.

Aviation and space art, hats, shirts, books and collectibles will be available for sale.

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Sharing a storied career of space flight | News | - Antelope Valley Press

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