John Glenn, Aviator from an era of heroic deeds, passes.


For the next day or two, there will be brief stories in the news about the passing of John Glenn. To younger Americans, it will seem something of a mystery why this old man mattered. Tonight I actually feel sorry for these younger people, because they have spent all of their lives saturated in a consumer mass media that convinced them that celebrities and wealthy people are ‘heroes” to be admired.



Standing beside a Convair F106-B aircraft in a January 1961 photograph are the nation’s Project Mercury astronauts. Left to right, are M. Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.
Credits: NASA


Above, the ‘Mercury Seven’; Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper,Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter,  with an F-106. They were selected from hundreds of candidates. While the film “The Right Stuff” questioned if they were actually quintessential aviators, five decades showed that without question they were great Americans, men we can all be proud of. Such people still exist, but in a consumer driven society, attention and admiration are driven to ‘personalities’ which support marketing.


John Glenn, the last living Mercury Seven astronaut, was an actual hero from a time when Americans understood that no celebrity ‘talent’ nor accumulation of wealth was to be admired, the only thing that should qualify an American for the admiration of his fellow countrymen was a supreme act of courage or will, in the face of mortal danger. Such a deed could advance our national mission,  morals or ethics, or it could simply be a selfless act out of love for a fellow human, it was not for sale, no one could buy it, and there was no skill that could be falsely elevated to compare to it. By this measure, John Glenn’s life was Heroic.


If you want to understand the transition point in American culture from the admiration of actual heroes to admiring wealth, let me present a simple two minute film of a very famous, but little seen debate speech. In a primary election, A wealthy businessman Howard Metzenbaum, believed in the post Vietnam era he could score political points by deriding John Glenn’s military record and NASA service as “Never having held a real Job” The video below covers John Glenn responding:



On that day, The values of John Glenn, the admiration of “A dedication to duty that meant more than life itself”, prevailed. But in time, our society was lead away from admiring such beliefs. I feel sorry for any young person who has been told that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is worth admiring, or should even be mentioned in the same breath as John Glenn. This country has produced, and still produces humans well worth the admiration of all of their fellow countrymen, but evidently too many people believe that we can’t have such people in national leadership. It is my great hope that I will live to see this corrected. Even if it never is, I know what makes a person admirable and heroic, and the life of John Glenn will always meet that standard. -ww.




I suggest Trump admirers read the books “Faith of my Fathers”(McCain), “When Hell was in Session” (Denton) “The Passing of the Night”(Risner) and  “In Love and War“(Stockdale) to understand the kind of Americans he has no respect for because they were POWs. He said it, it was never apologized for,  it in my book, that actually makes him pathetic. Trump stated that building his wealth was his ‘service’ to our country. Contrast this with the life of Floyd Thompson, America’s longest held POW, who returned after 9 years to a family who didn’t know him, nightmares, divorce, alcoholism, a coma and a stroke, medical discharge and isolation. Yet he never spoke a single negative word about our country, the Army or his fate. He died alone at age 69.

I suggest HRC admirers read the 1997 NYT article below. It explains how the body of Larry Lawrence, a giant fundraiser for the Clintons, had to be exhumed from Arlington National Cemetery, because it was revealed that his entire war record and military service record was fabricated. Bill Clinton had gotten a special exemption to have him buried there, and he was warned in advance that Lawrence was probably lying, but to the Clintons, it wasn’t a reason not to pay back a donor. Glenn will likely be buried at Arlington; Risner and Denton are already there, along with the Challenger Astronauts. One day McCain will join his father and Grandfather there, and one day my own father will rest there, and I greatly prefer that none of the people there were lying campaign contributors of the Clintons.




About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

4 Responses to John Glenn, Aviator from an era of heroic deeds, passes.

  1. Sarah Ashmore says:

    I grew up in Huntsville, AL at the height of the space race watching every launch and staying up late at night to see the first humans to walk on the moon (the live feed was terrible). We had schools named after the three Apollo I astronauts, White Chaffey and Grissom, who died so horribly while sitting on the launchpad in a launch rehearsal. These men were willing to put themselves into highly dangerous situations going and doing what had never been attempted and I had highest admiration for them. It is sad to see one of those Modern Day Hero’s pass from the Earth, sometimes it seems that they are in too short of supply. How he ever was able to move on to a career in politics and work among so many bottom feeders showed his strength of character

  2. Gordon Turner says:

    If you care to dwell on it, the political machine of this country has grown to be pathetic. Around, I think on the less side, of 10% of the voters, total, nominated in the primaries, these two to run for the election. The election was every person voting against the candidate they couldn’t stand. The most people voted for the loser. The other loser claims to be the winner. It looks to me like McCain and very few others even remember what principles were. One less today. Fair winds and following seas Colonel Glenn. Semper Fi.

  3. Dave Hoehn says:

    Godspeed, John Glenn…

  4. Harold Bickford says:

    Clearly John Glenn led a life well lived. Character counted and being responsible and responsive were key aspects. I do believe that too few people have had the experience of being involved in something bigger than they are. Being a Marine in war and peace would be such an experience. So would being an astronaut and senator.

    I remember well Col. Glenn in his 1962 orbital flight. Yuri Gagarin had shocked a year earlier with his single orbit flight just as had the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

    No, rocket science did not become a career but a life long interest in aviation related activity continued. Now many of those dreams from a half century ago find fruition. All of it is bigger than I am and that is something to be thankful for.


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