Astronaut. Born: August 26, 1932, Dickinson County, Kansas.
Described by one source as one of the nation's premier pilots, Joe Henry Engle has logged more than 10,000 hours aloft and piloted 130 types of aircraft. The Chapman, Kansas, native was an out-going, intelligent boy who played basketball, sang in the high school glee club, and dreamed of becoming an airplane pilot. He grew up building model airplanes and going to Junior Flying Tigers of America Club meetings in a friend's basement. He studied at the University of Kansas in the field of Aeronautical Engineering and upon graduation was commissioned into the Air Force. He graduated from the Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School, and his test flight on the X-15 to a height of 280,000 feet earned him the distinction of being the youngest Air Force officer to wear astronaut's wings.
In 1966 Engle was selected for astronaut duty and served as support crew for Apollo 10 in the spring of 1969 and as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 14 in January 1971, but never went into space. All this training, however, served him well when he was named to command the second flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. In November 1981 Chapman and the rest of the nation watched anxiously as Engle and his copilot, Richard Truly, successfully completed their historic flight. He was named the Native Sons and Daughters' Kansan of the Year in 1981. Engle remains a modest man and keeps close ties with his family and friends in Chapman.
Entry: Engle, Joe
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2010
Date Modified: August 2013
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