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Famous pilot to speak

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Feb 1, 2005 6:32 pm
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Mlive.com By Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood:If commercial air travel was more convenient, Mike Melvill may have missed his calling.

This 2004 X-Prize winner opted to get his pilot’s license because he wanted to be able to “get around more easily.”

He was a machinist who traveled for his business that produced cardboard and the machines that cut and folded the material to make boxes.
“Commercial (airlines) didn’t go where I need to go,” Melvill said.
One thing led to another. He got his pilot’s license, built his own plane and eventually decided to make a career of testing new aircraft.

“I go to the extreme limit that I can with everything that I do,” Melvill said from his home in Tehachapi, Calif., about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.
On Wednesday, Melvill will speak at Fountain Street Church about making international headlines in June when he flew SpaceShipOne beyond the Earth’s atmosphere at Mach 3. Within two weeks time, he and Brian Binnie, a fellow test pilot, each flew the privately-funded and designed spacecraft into sub-orbit. This back-to-back feat captured the $10 million prize created to spur commercial space travel.

Melvill, 64, hails from South Africa. He’s called the United States home for the last 35 years.
Soon, Melvill’s airplane will go on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

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