After serving two enlistments in the U.S. Air Force in the 1970s, I finished my degree and left military service to work in the aerospace industry for the majority of my career. I eventually turned toward my first passions, writing and the X-15, which resulted in my book "The X-15 Rocket Plane, Flying the First Wings into Space." Since the release of the book in 2013 I have given presentations about the rocket plane, and the people who made it happen, all across the country.

 

An old friend, Michael Cutler, whose son Trevor had recently graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, put me in touch with Col. Martin France, suggesting I bring my talk to the Academy for the cadets. The plans finally came to fruition with an invite to speak in mid-January 2018. In addition, X-15 pilot Joe Engle would also be a major part of the day. He led off with his fascinating first-hand account of "Hypersonic Flight Testing: From the X-15 to the Space Shuttle." My talk, "In the Line of Duty: Michael Adams and the X-15" followed directly after.

 

In the evening we returned to the Academy, where I presented "The X-15 Rocket Plane" for approximately 500 cadets. This was followed by a joint question and answer session with Joe Engle.

 

The entire day was truly amazing, and I cannot thank everyone at the Academy enough for their interest in the X-15 story, and their support of myself and Gen. Engle. This was a full circle moment for me, to be able to speak at the Academy after my own service in the Air Force so many years ago.

 

SPECIAL THANKS: Michael Cutler, Col. Martin France, Lt.Col. Ryan Quaale, Ma.jGen Joe H. Engle (Ret.), Lt.Col. Sandra Wilson, and Capt. Jeremy Kaczmarek.

A selfie with Michelle and Col. France.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Pikes Peak from my hotel window, the morning of 17 January 2018.

B-52D No. 083 "Diamond Lil" on "flying" display at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Polaris Hall, the Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development.

View of the Academy Cadet Chapel coming across the path from the Visitor Center.

Architecture at the Academy has always been amazing and beautiful.

The interior of the Academy Chapel.

An F-15 Eagle on display at the Academy with cadets.

Col. France with Joe Engle after our luncheon talk.

Joe Engle giving his "Hypersonic Flight Testing" talk for the luncheon group.

Some of those attending the two X-15 luncheon talks.

Engle explains the flight characteristics of the X-15.

Michelle and Gen. Engle.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Engle with Academy cadet Bishop, grandson of X-15 pilot Jack McKay.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Lt.Col. Ryan Quaale talks about the X-15 with Gen. Engle.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Engle was asked to autograph his two Space Shuttle flights (STS-2 and STS-51I) on a wall honoring all Shuttle astronauts.

Joe after autographing STS-51I.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Michelle at the podium for the evening lecture to the cadets.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Following the talk, Gen. Engle answers cadets' questions.

Joe and Michelle did a joint Q&A following "The X-15 Rocket Plane" talk. In the front row are Engle's astronaut colleagues Gary Payton and John Reilly.

courtesy Lt.Col. Ryan Quaale

Michelle with Brig.Gen. Andrew P. Armacost, Dean of the Academy Faculty

courtesy Col. Martin France

Michelle with Generals Armacost and Engle.

courtesy Lt.Col. Ryan Quaale

Joe speaks to several cadets following the evening lecture.

Michelle and Gen. Engle during the Q&A.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Joe with more Academy cadets.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Gary Payton with Joe Engle.

courtesy Col. Martin France

Michelle and Joe at the luncheon talks.

courtesy Lt.Col. Ryan Quaale

Michelle talks with Cadet Oldemeyer.

courtesy Lt.Col. Ryan Quaale