Illustration for article titled The Coolest Picture Of My Father

That’s my dad back when he was in the Air Force in the 1950's fresh out of college. He was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio and worked in research and development. He never flew a place, but did help design components like this thing. He’s sitting in a mock-up of an ejector seat capsule thing that was being developed for a high altitude surveillance plane. Possibly the Bell X-16, based on my own research. He said the plane never went into production and the X-16 was abandoned in favor of the U2.

Illustration for article titled The Coolest Picture Of My Father

Since you were at such a high altitude, they felt you needed an environment capsule, so this had those things that would drop down upon ejection and the whole unit would be pressurized. The seat was also ergonomically designed to help with fatigue on the long flights. That was my father’s specialty and he went on to become quite a successful furniture designer when he left the service. He doesn’t have too many mementos from his time in the Air Force. But, he does have this, one of the most rad photos ever. Also cool: he was on the team that designed a seat for a monkey to sit in a centrifuge when the space program was getting started. He said everything changed in his department once Sputnik was launched. Everything became about, “rockets and space.”

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