Basil Cooper
I have been interested in aircraft and rockets since I was five years old; so, less than two weeks after graduation from W-L, I enrolled in the School of Aeronautical Engineering at Georgia Tech. I eventually earned a doctorate in aerospace engineering and I have worked in the aircraft or space business since then. My first real job was a brief stint as a flight test engineer for the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, Maryland. Afterward, I worked almost exclusively in the space program. I was one of the people that did some of the early design work on the Space Shuttle. I eventually moved to the West Coast and spent fifteen years working on NASA and Air Force launch vehicle and satellite programs. In 1991, I moved to Huntsville Alabama to work on the Space Station program and I have been here ever since. Late last year, I retired from the Boeing Company after twenty plus years of working for them and nearly 40 years of working in the space program. One of my last jobs for Boeing was a brief stint working on the Boeing 787. This is Boeing's latest commercial aircraft. It is flying now and you will soon be able to buy a ticket for a flight on this airplane.

Along the way I fathered two daughters. When their mother and I split up, I became a single parent for many years. One of my daughters recently married and is living with her husband here in Huntsville. The other daughter is living in California trying to break into the film and television business. She has had small parts in a few movies and TV shows but nothing very big so far. She has a degree in music technology from New York University and has been able to work as a sound technician on a number of independent films; but, again, nothing very big so far. One of the things that I am proudest of is how well both of my daughters have turned out.

My work took me to a number of interesting places and, in my retirement, I have done a little bit of traveling also. I recently traveled to Oberammergau, Germany to see the passion play that they put on there once every ten years. I figured that I had better see it now because who knows where I will be in the year 2020.

I still maintain a connection to the aircraft world. I enjoy building and flying radio controlled model airplanes. We have a very nice flying field here and, with the exception of a couple of months in the winter, we usually have very good flying weather. Somewhere along the way, I also picked up an ability to talk to people who have alcohol or drug addiction problems and help them to understand that there is something that they can do about their addictions. I do volunteer work at a local treatment center where I talk to the inpatients and try to help them decide whether or not they want to do something about their problems. Most of the time, they go back to their addictions, whatever they are, but the occasional success is very heartwarming and worthwhile.

I hope to see you at the reunion.