Veteran fighter pilots share details of historic missions

Veteran fighter pilots share details of historic missions

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The two former pilots shared their experiences with the audience. The two former pilots shared their experiences with the audience.
"There was four of us pilots that took off from Del Rio, Texas at about four in the morning in one of the worst thunderstorms I had ever flown in," said Buddy Brown. "I had flown my mission. I was over Cuba about three hours." "There was four of us pilots that took off from Del Rio, Texas at about four in the morning in one of the worst thunderstorms I had ever flown in," said Buddy Brown. "I had flown my mission. I was over Cuba about three hours."
A SR71 Blackbird like the one Brown flew over San Cristobal to take pictures of missiles. (Source: Brown) A SR71 Blackbird like the one Brown flew over San Cristobal to take pictures of missiles. (Source: Brown)

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A workshop at the University of Tennessee designed to help East Tennessee teachers get students more involved in aerospace and astronomy got a little help from some former fighter pilots Friday.

For the last 18 years, teachers across the area have taken part in the Aerospace Education Workshop.

"Unfortunately, teachers do not receive any instruction on any of this in the traditional college track, so we outreach to the teachers and the community," said Workshop Director Dave Garner.

This year, the workshop hosted two special guest speakers - Harold Rosser, a WWII fighter pilot and Buddy Brown, an Air Force pilot, who flew the first spy plane mission during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

"There was four of us pilots that took off from Del Rio, Texas at about four in the morning in one of the worst thunderstorms I had ever flown in," said Brown. "I had flown my mission. I was over Cuba about three hours."

He flew the SR71 Blackbird over San Cristobal to take pictures of missiles, a mission that would eventually bring him face to face with the president.

"President Kennedy says, 'I'd like to meet the pilot that flew this particular mission,'" said Brown. "Being at the right place at the right time, it happened to be my mission."

Rosser and his friends joined the Army after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Now he, like Brown, spends most his time sharing these first-hand experiences that are quickly being lost.

"There was four of us that stayed together lived in the same tent and slept on four air mattresses," said Rosser. "They are all dead now. All my buddies are gone."

The two men hope their memories will live on through these classes as these teachers pass them on to their students. 

When the teachers complete this course they are certified to teach aerospace and receive three graduate credits.

The workshop is funded by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission.

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