NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, Expedition 33 flight engineer and Expedition 34 commander, responds to a question from a reporter during an Expedition 33/34 preflight press conference at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: NASA
Q: Why did you want to be an astronaut?
A: My first inclination was toward flying and being a pilot. I had older brothers who were interested in aviation. My oldest brother, David, gave me a ride when I was about fourteen years old for the very first time in a small plane. About the same time I stumbled onto a book called “Carrying the Fire,” written by Michael Collins, it was the first book I ever read and I turned right back to the first page and just started reading it again because I just enjoyed it so much. I was fascinated by the things he talked about. And at that point as a boy in small-town Indiana, I just thought, boy, I’d just really love to be a pilot as a career. I started working in a grocery store; I happened to have a grocer in my town that had his own airplane and he was really willing to give me a job and give me all the hours I needed to pay for flying lessons and that worked out well for me. I got my license early and went on to study aerospace engineering and to become an Air Force pilot. Some of it is just luck, kind of the way it works out, but I was able to fulfill that dream of being an Air Force pilot and a fighter pilot, and then after some years of that a test pilot. I was able to combine the academics of the engineering with the operational skills of flying, going to Test Pilot School, and just kind of found myself in a position where NASA was actually willing to look at the application one day. They looked at it a few times and put it away before they finally looked at it one time and said, well, we’ve already hired all the guys that were better than him, they’re already here. I was lucky enough to get into the corps at that point. So it just started out with the fascination with flying, really, and I was just lucky to get into the astronaut business.