“This is such an exciting venture you all are pursuing,” Captain Robert ‘Hoot’ Gibson began. “I want to fly it!”
He was referring to Boom’s supersonic aircraft, XB-1, undergoing assembly just a few steps away from where he sat with his wife, Dr. Rhea Seddon and Boom CEO Blake Scholl.
Scholl smiled and nodded in response, “We’ll see if we can arrange that.”
He knew, along with the captivated audience of Boom employees before him, just how qualified Captain Gibson, and Dr. Seddon for that matter, are to undertake that flight. As a former American naval officer, aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer and retired NASA astronaut, Captain Gibson is renowned in circles beyond air and space. Alongside him, Dr. Seddon — a physician, author, retired NASA astronaut, veteran of three space shuttle flights, and one of the first six women accepted by NASA — could be considered overqualified.
But Captain Gibson and Dr. Seddon didn’t visit the Boom hangar to give piloting advice. These two celebrities of aerospace and aviation arrived as special guests to Boom’s ‘In the Hangar’ speaker series.
“We are so fortunate at Boom that our mission draws some of the most accomplished people in aviation to come visit our hangar and share their stories,” said Scholl. “It’s humbling to witness the excitement of industry pioneers and luminaries as they hear about what we’re building.”
Captain Gibson and Dr. Seddon spent a very short hour sharing some remarkable flight experiences, first flight lessons, challenges, and industry trends.
As part of the discussion, Captain Gibson, who is a regular racer at the annual Reno Air Races, as well as an expert witness for aviation lawsuits, shared stories of the most challenging and fascinating flights of his day.
As Scholl put it, “Gibson performs activities with airplanes that smart people on the other side of the case claim will be fatal,” and he always proves them wrong.
With experience flying at both supersonic and hypersonic speed, Dr. Seddon discussed some of the memorable difficult challenges and creative solutions from her time as an astronaut. When a launched satellite failed to deploy its antennae, Dr. Seddon’s crew set to work. A business-as-usual flight became a problem-solving adventure that included a space walk, robot arm, plastic book covers, bone saw, and vacuum hose.
“No matter how well you plan and train, you can never imagine what you are in for, and that says something about my first flight,” said Dr. Seddon.
The Boom team was inspired and invigorated by Gibson and Seddon’s stories from testing, training, first flight, and space. The biggest takeaway was the reminder that the greatest challenges reap the greatest rewards. With XB-1’s own first flight on the horizon, Captain Gibson and Dr. Seddon placed Boom’s mission within the context of the industry’s most important milestones.
Scholl concluded his discussion with one final question: “What advice do you have for Boom?”
“It’s going to be a long journey,” started Captain Gibson. “Enjoy all the successes, debrief everything, expect setbacks, and keep praising your people.”
“And hire lots of women,” Dr. Seddon added. “We add a lot.”
To enjoy the full discussion with Captain Gibson and Dr. Seddon, check out the video below: