The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 42, October 17, 2021, Article 26


The August dinner of my Northern Virginia numismatic social group Nummis Nova was hosted up in Maryland by Julian Leidman at Jerry's Seafood. We had an excellent meal as always, and E-Sylum reader Chip Howell attended as my guest, where he heard Eric Schena recall witnessing early flights of the Space Shuttle in his youth. Chip passed along a video from the era (linked below) which inspired Eric to discuss his experiences and a numismatic connection. Thanks! -Editor

Space Shuttle landing My family was stationed at Edwards AFB in Southern California in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was there for some of the Enterprise glide flights and even got up close to the Enterprise a couple of times. I very much remember the 747 carrier plane; it was kept near the giant lifting gantry along the northern part of the dry lake bed near the road heading out towards Boron. Out of the first 12 landings, I can chalk up 9 of them.

I was fortunate as a kid in a way because Dad was tangentially connected to the space program, though not as an astronaut, but were around a number of space flight pioneers. For instance, my babysitter's father helped suit up the Gemini and Apollo astronauts – his den was covered with autographed photos. I did meet a couple of astronauts, plus an X-15 pilot – (Pete Knight). Dad used to take me to the flight line every once in a while, especially if there was something neat there (like an SR-71 and the Enterprise, of course).

Among other things, I have a bunch of photos of other experimental aircraft that were being tested at Edwards while we were there, namely the B-1A and the B-1B prototypes. I also have a couple of photos Dad took when he was flight testing B61, B77, and B83 drop-shapes (look ‘em up if you don't know what those are). And, of course, there were the various Space Shuttle landings. One landing (not sure which), my father took me to the mission control center and the folks there set me up at a radar station and gave me a super quick suitable-for-a-super-nerdy-10yr-old training session on how to use it, so I could watch the landing using the radar.

Chip's note reminded me that I still have some of my souvenirs of the landings. As Air Force brats living on base, we schoolchildren got no shortage of interesting swag. Among these things include a 1977 brochure on the Shuttle before it even went to space – I got that at the NASA Dryden visitor center on base – along with two sets of STS (Space Transportation System) 1 stickers. I also have a set of Going to work in space posters that I really need to get properly framed. In addition, I have two postal covers, one for STS-6 and the other for STS-9, both obtained via the base post office.

To make this numismatic, I have some bronze medals of the first 5 landings: top row l. to r. are STS-1, STS-2, STS-3 and bottom row l. to r. are STS-4 and STS-5. I also have a World War II era pressed fiber token from Muroc Air Field, which was later renamed Edwards AFB after test pilot Capt. Glen Edwards who was killed in a crash of a YB-49 flying wing in 1948. Not sure the medals – or any of these artifacts for that matter - have much value, but I don't really care about that with these since they have considerable meaning to me as part of my childhood living at the US Air Force Flight Test Center and are a part of America's space program.

  Space Shuttle STS-1 thru 5 medals obv 
  Space Shuttle STS-1 thru 5 medals rev 

To watch the video, see:
How NASA Learned To Fly The Space Shuttle Like A Glider (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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