Midge Boardman, People
GLENDALE -- Bob De Wees might be retired, but his appetite for
adventure would put a younger man to shame.
When the longtime Glendale resident spotted the Elderhostel Astronaut
Training Program on his e-mail, “I jumped on it immediately,” he said
No longer would he have to envy kids at space camp. He could attend
the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, one of the world’s
foremost space museums and one of the Smithsonian Institute’s first
The little museum that could is now a big one, De Wees said, with a
U.S. space artifact collection (including the actual Apollo 13 command
module Odyssey) second only to the National Air and Space Museum and the
largest collection of Russian space artifacts in the Western world.
Classes and lectures filled the first few days in preparation for
flying a mission in a space shuttle simulator. Thirty-three participants
are divided into five-person crews. De Wees commanded his flight.
“There were lots of checklists -- a book of check lists. And I talked
to the control center,” he said, referring to Cosmosphere.
Realistic, motion-based screens inside the simulated capsule showed
rock formations and, at the end of an hour, a safe landing at the Kennedy
“It felt like we were really practicing, getting the feel for what
went on there,” he said.
Students built and launched their own rockets and saw eight different
satellites: American, Russian and the international station.
“The best sighting I ever had,” De Wees said.
Helen Unruh, Cosmosphere director of membership and special projects,
remembered De Wees.
“He wanted to learn as much as possible, taking notes and asking
questions,” she said.
She said the program, open to Elderhostel since 1995, has drawn people
from around the United States, Canada and Hawaii. Physical condition
doesn’t matter, she said, but students should have a sense of adventure
and the desire to try something different, and to find creative ways to
do fun things, she added.
Anyone wanting more information can call her at (800) 397-0330 ext.
319 or visit the Web site www.cosmo.org.
The Elderhostel students were an inspiration, she said.
“We all agreed that when we get older, we want to be like them,” she
THE De WEES FILE:
HOME: Moved to Glendale from Eagle Rock 35 years ago.
BEFORE RETIREMENT: Technical AT&T; marketing consultant.
CHILDREN: Two sons: Mike attended Glendale College years ago, now
finishing up at Cal State Los Angeles in business administration; Jim
earned a degree in English from San Diego State three years ago, travels
around the world, now in Japan. Both men attended Hoover High School.
HOBBIES: Independent travel, photography, Red Cross Disaster Services
FUTURE PLANS: Return to Europe, Asia, Africa; explore Antarctica;
spend a long time in Australia and New Zealand.