Ed Dwight Was Set to Be the First Black Astronaut.
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By Emily Ludolph, The New York Times
The bone-rattling trip to the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere used to require a steady hand, a powerful jet and the precision of an airman ready to dodge enemy fire.
The dangers were immense. You could black out. Gravitational force could pull blood from your eyes, rendering you sightless. Or you could merely end up in a flat spin and plummet to Earth without ever getting a good view of what lay beyond it.
It was just the sort of challenge that a chiseled 29-year-old aspiring astronaut named Ed Dwight was after.
In 1962, he piloted an F-104 Starfighter, essentially a chrome javelin, with wings so small as to seem gestural, designed to go very fast and very high, ideally in a straight line. A massive engine took up one end; the other was occupied by the pilot.
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