The day we cease to be explorers and revert to armchairs and joysticks is the day we begin to dwell on past achievements rather than future adventures.

True words, spoken by Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion Blakey at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches:

“Let’s face it, it will be a long time — if ever — before a robot could repair the Hubble telescope or make the many adjustments needed to add modules to the International Space Station,” Blakey said. “The day we cease to be explorers and revert to armchairs and joysticks is the day we begin to dwell on past achievements rather than future adventures. This must not happen on our watch…”

Blakey urged Obama to develop a long-term space strategy that will carry us through at least one generation. “What will happen if the United States lacks a strategy to explore the universe?” Blakey said. “Will Floridians be forced to change the motto above the soaring space shuttle on your state quarter from ‘Gateway to Discovery’ to ‘Museum of Discovery?’”

If the people I’ve referred to in the past as “anti-moon luddites” get their way, we will.

This also makes me think of something my grandfather Chet experienced in the middle of his own aeronautic adventure, the 1933 Langley Day at College Park, MD:

On 5 May 1933–two days before Langley Day–the N.A.A.’s board voted to sanction the entire event provided these two event were eliminated as “unnecessarily dangerous and contrary to the best interests of aviation.” Chet fired back that the NAA officials were “swivel-chair, broomstick pilots,” and went on as follows:

Members of the contest committee of the N.A.A. waited until yesterday to state their conditions on which their body would sanction our local meet. And as yet I have received no official word from them of what they feel we must do to comply with their rules…I have had no co-operation from the National Aeronautic Association and have had nothing but destructive criticism and meddling…no other course could be taken but to hold the program as planned.

I bitterly resent the treatment accorded by the National Aeronautic Association. Our program has been public knowledge for weeks and it is gross injustice for them to attempt to dictate policies at the eleventh hour.

Our program is safe and our rules have been examined and approved by officials of the aeronautics branch of the Department of Commerce, several of whom are serving as race officials tomorrow. I for one consider that the safety of the air is vested in the Department of Commerce and I am willing to abide by the decision of its officials. If the N.A.A. does not choose to sanction our air meet, the meet will go on without sanction, as it has been planned.

Chet even threatened to have N.A.A. officials who tried to stop the event removed from the field. Fortunately neither accident nor rowdy N.A.A. official marred the event.

Unfortunately, I get the impression that our “scientific” administration is being run by “swivel-chair, broomstick pilots” in more ways than just the space program.

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