Famed Astronaut, Aviator Hoot Gibson Joins Seaplane Crossings Advisory Board

Seaplane Crossings is honored and excited to announce that famed astronaut and aviator Captain Robert “Hoot” Gibson has been appointed to the organization’s Advisory Board, which serves as an important resource to the Seaplane Crossings Board of Directors.

Hoot served as a Navy fighter pilot, test pilot and NASA astronaut before joining Southwest Airlines as a pilot in 1996.

“Seaplane Crossings is thrilled to have Captain Hoot Gibson onboard our team,” Chairman Stewart Lawrence said. “Hoot fully appreciates the role seaplanes played in the development of aviation and, by extension, the space program.”

Next year, the United States will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. Coincidentally, and ironically, it will also be the 100th Anniversary of the 1st Transatlantic Flight, achieved by the NC-4, a U.S. Navy seaplane.

“Think about the magnitude of the advancements during that timeframe,” Stewart said. “The first-ever transatlantic flight occurred in 1919, just over 15 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight in December 1903. Only 50 years later, the United States landed men on the Moon, and brought them home safely. 50 years later, we will celebrate both milestones. Hoot was instrumental in the advancement of both aviation and space travel, and he can help Seaplane Crossings achieve our goal of reenacting the 1st Transatlantic Flight next year, contributing his extraordinary knowledge and enthusiasm.”

Before gaining world notoriety as an astronaut, Hoot entered the United States Navy and served as a fighter pilot in F-4 “Phantom” and F-14 “Tomcat” aircraft, flying combat missions in Southeast Asia and making more than 300 carrier landings aboard the USS CORAL SEA and USS ENTERPRISE. After attending Topgun, the Navy Fighter Weapons School, Hoot graduated first in his class in the Navy Test Pilot School, and wrapped up his Navy career as a Flight Test Pilot in 1978 when he was selected as an astronaut in the first Space Shuttle Astronaut selection.

As an astronaut for 18 years, during which he also held the positions of Deputy Chief of NASA Aircraft Operations, Chief of the Astronaut Office, and as the Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations, Hoot flew five missions aboard the Space Shuttles CHALLENGER, COLUMBIA, ATLANTIS and ENDEAVOUR, once as Co-Pilot and four times as the Mission Commander. In 1995, Hoot’s last Space Shuttle mission was the first to ever rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station MIR, setting three Space World Records in the process.

Back on Earth after his NASA career, Hoot flew 10 years as a pilot for Southwest Airlines, and has continued to fly privately, including as an air race pilot in the Reno National Championship Air Races, racing in the Unlimited Class and the Jet Class, and capturing the Unlimited National Air Race Championship in 2015. In a flying career covering more than 50 years, he has accumulated in excess of 14,000 hours of flight time in more than 150 types of military and civilian aircraft, and has established six Aviation World Records to go with his Space World Records.

Hoot earned an Associate Degree from Suffolk County Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, prior to joining the Navy. He has been awarded numerous decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal. He was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003, the Long Island Air and Space Hall of Fame in 2011, the Spacecamp Hall of Fame in 2012, and was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.


100th Anniversary 1st Trans-Atlantic Flight

May 2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of the very first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by any aircraft. The crossing was made by US Navy Curtiss (NC) flying boats. That historic first flight started on May 8, 1919, at NAS Rockaway New York with three aircraft, NC-1, NC-3 and NC-4. After many trials that tested man and machine, with the support of more than 50 US Naval warships, NC-4 landed in the harbor at Plymouth England 23 days later, at 1:27 p.m. on May 31, 1919. That was truly an epic feat for the US Navy, the United States of America, and indeed all of mankind!

NC-4’s route included stops in: Boston; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Trepassey Bay, Newfoundland; Horta and Ponta Delgada, Azores; Lisbon, Portugal; El Ferrol, Spain; and Plymouth, England, in addition to a landing on the Mondego River for repairs.

Poseidon Calls Pegasus to Final Rest After Freak Accident at Sea

Sadly, Pegasus (N1955G) was recently lost at sea in a freak accident and is no longer with us to make the Crossing in May 2019.

Last year, Pegasus made incredible back-to-back-to-back Hurricane Relief flights to St Thomas USVI, carrying more than 13,000 pounds of relief supplies to the victims of the Caribbean Island hurricanes. These adventures were covered by many news organizations as well as on Seaplane Crossing’s website and Facebook pages. Pegasus and crew never slowed down after those unselfish volunteer events, and were working hard all the way up to the HU-16 Grumman Albatross’ untimely demise.

On 25 August 2018, Pegasus struck something in the water upon takeoff 425 miles offshore during a multi-stop aerial surveillance mission just east of the Gulf Stream in the Sargasso Sea. While the crew was uninjured and rescued by a passing freighter, the damage to Pegasus was far greater than could be repaired at sea. The amphibian later succumbed to the damage and sank near 70 West, 31 North.

Pegasus will be sorely missed by all of us at Seaplane Crossings, and the entire Albatross community at large. Captain Hollyer and his flight crew report that their rescue was a truly remarkable and humbling experience. They are extremely grateful to the US Coast Guard’s Rescue 2004 C-130 crew out of Elizabeth City, as well as the crew of the MV Polar Peru and the USS Mason (DDG 87) for their dedication, bravery and remarkable kindness.

Fortunately, Seaplane Crossing’s mission, and particularly its recreation and celebration of the First Transatlantic Flight, 100th Anniversary, remains intact.  Zeus (N1954Z), is proud to step up as the primary celebrant.  Having lost significant time in preparation for the trip, your donations to the cause are more vital than ever.  Please click the Donate button alongside, and tell your friends about this worthwhile effort!

Relief Efforts to St. Thomas and St. John

The Seaplane Crossings team flew three relief missions to St. Thomas and St. John, providing medical equipment, generators, chain saws and other vital supplies to those in need after the hurricanes.

Mission sponsors included David Faeder of Reston, VA, Dan Lowe of Legacy Development, and basketball legend Tim Duncan. Thanks also go out to Inova Hospital Systems for donated medical supplies.

Lots of photos and information on our disaster relief efforts are available on our Facebook page at facebook.com/seaplanecrossings.

If you would like to contribute to these efforts please donate! Your contributions are greatly appreciated!