Ken Reightler Presentation – 2014 Consortium Workshop

“The Connections between Sailing and Flying”

Ken Reightler
Former Shuttle Pilot and Lockeed Martin Executive; Professor, Aerospace Engineering, United States Naval Academy; Offshore Training Squadron, United Sates Naval Academy Sailing

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Presentation Notes:

  1. Welcome and Thank you
  2. My sailing background
    1. I was born on the water…but that is a story for another time.
    2. I come from a family that on one side was Eastern Shore waterman, boat builders, and ship’s captains.
    3. On the other side were blacksmiths, carpenters, gold prospectors, oil field workers and Naval seaman, chiefs and officers.
    4. I grew up around boats and boatyards and people who made their livelihood at sea.
    5. So it is no surprise that I was on the Varsity Sailing team here at USNA.
    6. It would also be no surprise that I continued to sail and race as a lifelong hobby and sport long after I graduated.
    7. However, it might be a surprise (it was to me) that I would be back here at the Naval Academy as a professor, Instructor Skipper, and Volunteer Coach.
  3. Flying Background
    1. Started early
    2. Not just interested in flying airplanes but flying in space as well.
    3. Brought me to USNA with a dream
    4. Dream took shape on July 20 1969, landing on the moon.
    5. Pursed it as a midshipman
      1. Flying jets off carriers and going faster than the speed of sound as a teen ager
      2. Private pilot’s license
      3. But connected to my studies as an aerospace engineer
      4. And also connected to my involvement in the sport of sailing
  4. After graduation
    1. Operational flying
    2. Flight Test
    3. Instruction
    4. Sailing
    5. Graduate studies/sailing
    6. Astronaut Program
  5. Connection between Sailing and Flying
    1. When I first started flying small, 2 person aircraft, I immediately made the connection with sailing 420’s like those outside, in fact right here.
    2. When that led to training on larger more complex aircraft with slightly larger crews, I went back to my time skippering Shields One Designs that the Academy then had five of. One of my fondest memories is just beating Ted Turner over the finish line in one the Bay races. That didn’t happen very often.
    3. Finally as a P-3 Mission and Plane Commander, I would draw heavily on my D-Command in the Navy Luders yawls. I couldn’t find a picture of them but this Mark II shot was too good to pass up.
    4. Transferable skills:
      1. Navigation
      2. Communications (Radar, GPS, VHF, HF, Electronic map dispalys)
      3. Ship handling
      4. Meteorology
      5. Mechanics
      6. Stability and Control
      7. Aerodynamics
      8. Structures
      9. Materials
      10. Performance under stress, in challenging environments
      11. Math, Science, Technology Connection
      12. Crew, People, Emotional Connection
      13. Environmental connection
      14. Decision making, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Situational Awareness Connection
      15. Anticipating problems
      16. Preparation and logistics
      17. Risk management
      18. Leadership (Experiential Dimension)
  6. Connection to Space Flight (Credit to Dr. Mike Barratt)
    1. Similarities in Operations, Systems, and Concerns
    2. World of bulkheads, stringers, plumbing, ventilation, hose clamps, thru valves, and wiring
    3. We share the burden of training and preparation
    4. At some point must accept that you have done all you can, the provisions are all stowed, the weather looks good, and despite the feeling that you have forgotten something, it is time to go.
    5. Launch is a lot like leaving the slip…often it is the hardest part of the journey.
    6. We often have to battle the adaptation to our environment…seasickness, sea legs.
    7. Docking is also a critical time, when a steady hand on the rudder and throttle is required.
    8. Routines…getting around, doing the work, checking the consumables(food, water, fuel, supplies, power)
    9. Concerns…Fire, Leaks, Running into something.
      1. Reefs
      2. Flotsam and Jetsam…grains of sand going 18,000 mph hurt
      3. We have life boats and ditch bags too
      4. Solar power and batteries
      5. Comm, Navigation (we get a lot more help in space than on the water)
      6. Weather…Space Weather…Solar and Cosmic radiation
        1. Heaving too is sheltering in place
        2. Rely on outside sources for info
      7. Heads
      8. Food..the importance of gathering the crew around the galley table our cockpit to share a meal is not lost on the space age. Don’t get steaks and shrimp off the Barbe but close.
      9. Sensations of being at sea
        1. Presence of unusual or lack of something usual that awakens you from a deep sleep.
        2. Special moments like sunrises and sunsets..we get 16 of each in orbit., Shooting stars, thunderstorms and star filled skies
      10. Sailing, flying and space travel expand our reach and open unique and fascinating worlds to our experience
      11. They make us aware of our resources and environment
      12. And they make us appreciate a well-balanced system in which there is little room for error.
      13. And they have a way of turning friends and acquaintances into working shipmates and crewmates.
  7. Conclusions
    1. The connection between sailing and flying (in the atmosphere or out) has always been with me
    2. I give full credit to my start on the water to what I was able to do in the air and beyond.
    3. I do believe that old saying “Sailors make better Pilots.” And agree that is self-serving
    4. But I also believe there is a strong link between sailing, math, science, engineering, and technology.
    5. That is one reason that I am so involved today with Naval Academy Sailing in all its forms, as well as supporting the good work of the National Sailing Hall of Fame.
    6. To me, there is no better preparation than sailing for naval officers, especially those who plan to go a bit higher and a lot faster.
    7. But as I said, there is also an incredibly powerful developmental aspect for our future engineers, scientists, and technologists as well.
    8. Sometimes it really is “Rocket Science”
  8. Closing
    1. Again, Thank you for coming, Welcome to USNA and the RCC, Enjoy the day and the rest of the workshop
    2. You have a great line up of speakers
    3. I hope to join you for part of the day
    4. Making the final preparations for an overnight training sail that starts tonight and I am sure that I have forgotten something.

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