First female spacecraft commander visits Dyess
By Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 27, 2018
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, former NASA astronaut and the first woman to pilot and command a U.S. spacecraft, visited Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, March 23.
During her visit, Collins spoke to Airmen, community leaders, students and families about her professional and personal experiences as a woman in the U.S. Air Force in a briefing in the base’s theater.
“I think my greatest accomplishment within my career was the opportunity to fly as the commander of a space mission,” Collins said. “On my personal side, I would say it’s my family. I have made them my number one focus by making sure my kids have the tools they need to be adults that can attribute to society.”
After speaking, everyone was given the opportunity to get an autograph and a photo with her.
“Meeting her gave me an inspirational boost,” said Airman Sara Wilson, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron armament specialist. “She helped remind myself that anything is possible and that you can make your dreams into reality as long as you want it, put in hard work and not lose sight of your end goal.”
After the briefing, Collins spoke with Airmen at the Women’s Heritage Luncheon where she answered questions in a more personal setting regarding her life as an astronaut. Collins also gave advice for those looking to become an astronaut later in their careers.
“One, they must get a college degree in either math, science or engineering,” Collins said. “An advanced degree would help make you more competitive, but is not required. You also need at least a minimum of three years of experience in a field of what will be related to what you would be doing as an astronaut. The most important and hardest thing they evaluate is how you get along with other people. It’s very important that you get along with your crew mates. But the absolute requirement for the program would be the degree.”
Collins was also given the opportunity to experience flying in a B-1B Lancer simulator, as well as a tour of the C-130J Super Hercules and B-1B static displays. After touring the aircraft, she spoke in a senior leader roll call to give insight on her experiences on leading others and obstacles she faced during her career.
During her visit, she met many Airmen stationed on Dyess AFB while giving advice and insight about her time in space.
“My favorite thing about being in space was looking back at the Earth, without a doubt,” Collins said. “One of the things I really enjoyed was having the shuttle upside down, putting my face up against the window, stretching out my arms and having the feeling that I’m flying over the planet. It’s beautiful, day or night.”