Brian Golden

Brian Golden / bgolden@avpress.com

Our heroes have always been JetHawks.

We’ll add two more Saturday when Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley open a whole new era of manned space exploration aboard the Dragon Crew Capsule/Falcon 9 rocket when they blast off from the Kennedy Space Center’s Cape Canaveral.

But, of course, Col. Behnken is a proud graduate of the USAF Test Pilots School at Edwards Air Force Base.

Are they even allowed to make manned space exploration history without someone from the first city of the space age?

Notwithstanding the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle tragedies, our space program has always delivered exactly what we need, and exactly when we needed it.

The maiden voyage of the Shuttle in 1981 shook us out out of a decade of doldrums.

Apollo 8 orbiting the moon on the second-most incredible Christmas Eve of all time in 1968 brought a peaceful and hopeful end to a year wracked by the murders of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the bloody divisions of Vietnam.

Anyone who was alive then can attest that the closest this planet has come to one family under God was the week of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

By definition, space flight lifts our sights, and our hopes.

And Lord knows, we need something to lift our eyes, our chins, our hearts and our hopes.

Space exploration is the perfect rebuttal to the sky-is-falling types who have wrapped two hands around the throat of Los Angeles County’s economy amid the Coronavirus pandemic in the name of safety over risk.

Thank God the second try at SpaceX’s liftoff Saturday will be made on historic launch pad 39A at Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

If they tried this at Vandenberg Air Force Base, every elected official in the state of Paralysis, uh, California, would be camped out at the base of the launch pad as human roadblocks.

Imagine if County Health Director Barbara Ferrer had been on the flight line on the morning of Oct. 14, 1947.

She would have tried to ground Capt. Chuck Yeager with his broken ribs suffered horseback riding the night before, the way she has put a Daryl Gates chokehold on our economy.

The native son of West Virginia may not have gone to college. But Chuck Yeager understood the analysis of risk and reward.

And he punched the hole in the sky we used to get to the moon.

Wednesday’s excitement building toward the eventual weather-related scrub of the Dragon Crew Capsule launch reminded us how badly we miss, and we need, the adventure of space flight.

We are now an on-demand culture conditioned to hitting the chapters and fast forward buttons.

History in the making has its own time frame, which we were delightfully reminded.

On July 20, 1969, a young girl named Sharon Corrigan had her first date with her future husband, Steve McAuliffe. On a lover’s lane in New Hampshire, they gazed up at a a crescent moon with a couple of guys named Neil and Buzz on it.

Seventeen years later, Sharon Christa McAuliffe was America’s first Teacher in Space aboard the doomed Challenger.

If only every American institution inspired us the way space flight does.

Leave it to space flight to make another appeal to save the Lancaster JetHawks, too.

When NASA decommissioned its FA-18 upper atmosphere research plane and donated it to the city of Lancaster, KAVL AM-610 broadcast live the ceremony during which the plane was in front of Lancaster Municipal Stadium.

“Every night, boys and girls will walk under this plane into the stadium dreaming of playing for the JetHawks,” Dr. Kenneth Szalai, the Director of the NASA Dryden Space Flight Center at EAFB, said that morning on the radio broadcast. “Of course, not everybody can be a professional baseball player.

“But they can look up at this plane and dream that someday, they’ll fly back to the moon. Or, that they’ll command our first mission to Mars.”

How right Dr. Szalai was. 

The Hangar is the closest thing to a NASA museum that baseball has.

The city can make it an even greater open-air space museum by relocating the Aerospace Walk of Honor monuments there from Lancaster Boulevard, where they are either forgotten or endangered by BLVD construction. 

The Hangar is the altar where our twin loves of aerospace and baseball were married in 1996.

It will be so nice, for one more Saturday in May, anyway, to gather back in that cathedral of joy.

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