Francis Scobee 1939-1986

The commanding officer of Challenger was a late bloomer. Born in the rural Washington town of Cle Elum (an Indian name meaning swift water), the son of a railroad engineer, Francis R. ("Dick") Scobee began his flying career unglamorously, as an 18-year-old enlisted Air Force mechanic. By attending night school and enrolling in service education programs, he eventually won a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona that helped him qualify to become an officer and a pilot.

Scobee's fascination with aviation developed early. Ruth Fletcher, a classmate, remembers that he drew pictures of airplanes in spare moments throughout...

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