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Joe engle

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Joe Henry Engle (born August 26, 1932) is an American pilot, aeronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut. He was the commander of two Space Shuttle missions including STS-2 in 1981, the program's second orbital flight. He also flew three flights in the Shuttle program's 1977 Approach and Landing Tests. Engle is one of twelve pilots who flew the North American X-15, an experimental spaceplane jointly operated by the Air Force and NASA.

As an X-15 pilot, Engle made three flights above 50 miles, thus qualifying for astronaut wings under the American convention for the boundary of space. In 1966 he was selected for NASA's fifth Astronaut Group, joining the Apollo program. He was the backup Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) for Apollo 14 and originally scheduled as LMP for Apollo 17. However, cancellation of later flights prompted NASA to select geologist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt as LMP, displacing Engle.

Engle is an experienced spaceplane operator and the last living X-15 pilot.

Engle was born on August 26, 1932, in Chapman, Kansas.[1] He attended primary and secondary schools in Chapman, Kansas, and he graduated from Dickinson County High School in 1950.[2] Engle was active as a Boy Scout and earned the rank of First Class.[3] He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1955, where he was a member of the Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity.[4][5]

He was married to the late Mary Catherine Lawrence of Mission Hills, Kansas and has two grown children and one stepchild. He is currently married to Jeanie Carter Engle of Houston, Texas. Engle's recreational interests include flying (including World War II fighter aircraft), big game hunting, backpacking, and athletics.[5]

He was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and became a Fellow in 2009.[6]

Engle received his commission in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Kansas. While in school he was a member of the Professional Engineering Fraternity Theta Tau, and decided to become a test pilot. While working at Cessna Aircraft during the summer, he learned how to fly from a fellow draftsman, Henry Dittmer.[7][8]

Engle entered flying school in 1957, and received his pilot wings in 1958. He flew the F-100 Super Sabre with the 474th Fighter Day Squadron and the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George Air Force Base, California. Chuck Yeager recommended Engle for USAF Test Pilot School, from which he graduated in 1961, and he was later assigned to the third class of the Aerospace Research Pilot School, despite his reluctance to leave "stick and rudder" flying for a space capsule.[8]

After serving as a test pilot in the Fighter Test Group at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Engle was a test pilot in the X-15 research program at Edwards from June 1963 until his assignment to the Manned Spacecraft Center (now the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center). Engle had applied with fellow ARPS student Charles Bassett and Michael Collins to the third NASA astronaut group, but the Air Force withdrew Engle's NASA application and instead chose him to replace Robert M. White in the X-15 program, which pleased Engle.[8]

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