I'm really excited today.
Have you ever seen the movie "October Sky"? It's about four friends that grew up in a coal mining town in West Virginia in the 1940's (or 30's, or 50's). One of the friends in particular had an interest in and aptitude for building rockets. His dad, the mine foreman, didn't like, or support, his son's interest in rockets because he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and run the mine one day. His son kept building rockets, eventually won a science fair, and 'met' his idol, Wernher von Braun (who later became the Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville). He earned a scholarship to college and then I forget what happened. All of the friends ended up being successful in something other than coal mining.
If you haven't seen the movie, you should rent it. It's a good story. If you have seen the movie, then you've seen my grandfather (Papaw).
Papaw's been fascinated by all types of rockets and aircraft since he was young. When his family moved to Birmingham from West Virginia to, go figure, work in the coal mines, my grandfather went to work with Hayes Aircraft instead. Hayes was located at the Birmingham airport, and he'd spend his lunch break watching planes come and go. He eventually retired from Hayes and took his electrical knowledge to the coal mines of west Jefferson County, but to my knowledge, he never swung a pick.
He's also fascinated by space flight. He's a ham radio operator, and he'll sit in his little radio room and listen to the astronauts talk to mission control for hours, that's when he's not watching the NASA network, of course. If you ever wondered who watches all of those lift-offs and landings, well, it's Papaw.
My Papaw turns 80 on February 16th. For his birthday, I was able to get two tickets to watch the March 15th shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida! How exciting is that? Not only will we be able to watch the lift-off from the closest possible public viewing area - which is the causeway at the Kennedy Space Center - but we also get to have breakfast before the launch with an astronaut! Afterward, we can peruse the Space Center as long as his heart delights.
I don't know how we'll get there, or where we'll stay, but I'm so excited for him. I hope and pray that there are no technical, weather, or other delays and that the launch goes off on the 15th.
But ssshhhh, it's a surprise.