August 14, 2012
Brian Binnie is most known to me as a controversial figure after the crashed SpaceShipOne. I heard that Mike Mellville raised his voice at a meeting and suggested that Brian just did not have the right stuff, and so "flew into runway", and that he would show Brian how it's done. And he did! IIRC, Brian did not fly SS1 afterwards, while Mike was throwing M&Ms around the weightless cockpit. Months and years passed. Brian published a weird article in Salon or Smithsonian, I do not remember well, where he tried to come to grips with that accident. It was painful to read. I thought we would not hear of him again, but -- surprise -- he was promoted to a managerial role at Scaled. He became a director of flight ops. I thought it was pretty good for everyone involved: Brian gets a raise and stays out of cockpit.
Well, maybe not. A report at Clark Lindsey's new digs mentions that Brian was a co-pilot at the 11th SpaceShipTwo test.
To be sure, even if Brian was inferior to Mr. Mellville as a pilot, he's still a thousand times better than I am. Also, SS2 was specifically designed so that any good airline captain could fly it, unlike SS1. Remember that SS1 had no air brakes and the only way to aim it for touchdown was to vary the radius of gliding circle! So he's not going to kill any revenue passengers. But man, what a cool job, and nobody is there to tell you no (I think Mike retired before Burt).
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