Elliot See

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Elliot McKay See, Jr. (July 23, 1927 – February 28, 1966), was an American astronaut, selected in the second group of astronauts.

Elliot See was born in Dallas, Texas and attended Highland Park High School. After initially attending The University of Texas where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, he then attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy, graduating in 1949. He later obtained a masters degree from UCLA. He worked for General Electric before and after serving as a naval aviator from 1953 to 1956. He was married to Marilyn Denahy See, and had three children, Sally, Carolyn, and David.

See acted as backup pilot for Gemini 5 and was in line to fly as Prime Crew Pilot for Gemini 8 but was promoted to be the Command Pilot of Gemini 9. However, he and Pilot Charles Bassett were killed on February 28, 1966, when their T-38 trainer jet crashed into McDonnell Aircraft Building 101, known as the McDonnell Space Center, located 1,000 feet (300 m) from Lambert Field airport in St. Louis, Missouri before Gemini 9 flew. Building 101 was where the Gemini spacecraft was built, and they were going there to train for two weeks in a simulator. Ironically, they died within 500 feet (150 m) of their spacecraft. Both were buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

A NASA investigative panel later concluded that pilot error caused by poor visibility due to bad weather had been the principal cause of the accident. The panel concluded that See was flying too low to the ground during his approach, probably as a result of the poor visibility.

The shuffling of the Gemini prime and backup crew assignments that occurred after See and Bassett's deaths had an effect on the crew selections for some of the early Apollo manned missions.

See's name is listed on the Space Mirror Memorial. See was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of Highland Park High School in 2010.[1]

In the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, See was played by Steve Zahn.

Books

A family-approved account of See's life and career appears in the 2003 book "Fallen Astronauts" by space historian Colin Burgess and Kate Doolan UNP 2003.

References

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