Guy Gardner, President of Williamson Free School, will speak on Wednesday, February 2, at 12:40pm in the Meagher Theatre. A former astronaut, U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and test pilot, teacher, and head of two schools, Gardner became the 12th president of the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades on July 1, 2009.
Gardner began his flying career in 1972 as a fighter pilot, flying 177 combat missions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He also served as an instructor and operational pilot at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. After attending test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base in 1975, he served as a test pilot and instructor test pilot.
From 1980-91, he served as a NASA astronaut, piloting two space shuttle missions. In 1988, he piloted Orbiter Atlantis, which carried a Department of Defense payload and was the second space shuttle launched after the Challenger disaster, and in 1990 he piloted the Orbiter Columbia, carrying an astronomy laboratory. He also worked in other areas of space shuttle and space station development and support.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1992 as a colonel, Gardner served at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., as the initial director of the joint U.S. Russian Shuttle Mir space flight program, which made joint flights possible.
Gardner was born in Altavista and grew up in Alexandria, VA. He earned a bachelor of science degree with majors in astronautics, mathematics, and engineering science from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1969. He holds a master of science degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University and a master of arts degree in education from Virginia Tech with certifications in mathematics and physics.
Gardner has received two Defense Superior Service Medals, the Air Force Legion of Merit, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 14 Air Medals, the Test Pilot School Outstanding Academic Instructor and Outstanding Flying Instructor, Top Graduate in Test Pilot School, Top Graduate in Pilot Training, Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Academy, and Outstanding Aerospace Engineer of Purdue University.
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