Oklahoma Astronaut Led Life Of Great Adventure

Wednesday, March 5th 2014, 6:49 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Oklahoma has lost an accomplished native son, astronaut, William Pogue.

Pogue grew up in Sand Springs, where he's one of the famous natives on a mural at the Case Center.

His old friends describe him as a teacher more than anything, trained in geology but eager to teach about space.

03/04/2014 Related Story: Sand Springs Astronaut Dies At 84

There's a corner of the Tulsa Air & Space Museum devoted to space exploration, and today, that's where Bill Pogue is being remembered.

His friend Kim Jones is the museum curator.

"Bill was a wonderful guy, a big supporter of the museum from the very beginning," Jones said.

And that fits because Pogue could fly almost anything.

"He had tens of thousands of hours in the air and all the time he had in space," she said.

Even in a state that claims eight astronauts, Jones says that Bill Pogue stands out as the pilot of Skylab 4, a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds and an advocate for the space program.

"Bill Pogue held the record for longest time in space with 84 when he was on Skylab, but that record was broken by another Oklahoma astronaut, Shannon Lucid, when she was on MIR.

Pogue famously answered the No. 1 question for astronauts with a book that explains it all with plenty of details.

His old friend from Sand Springs, Bruce Fralin, remembers his intelligence even as a teenager.

"He was a very amazing young man, had a good knowledge when you visited with him," Fralin said.

On Wednesday at the Air and Space Museum, the flags are at half staff to remember Pogue.

He's also the namesake for the airport in Sand Springs, where he graduated from high school.

It's been years since he had been back to the airport or the museum, but his contributions and inspiration for both ensure he'll never be forgotten.

The history museum features a display of items he took to space, then brought home and donated.

He lived in Arkansas in retirement, but a couple of years ago moved back to Cocoa Beach, Fla., and that's where he died.