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Southwest Airlines Pilot Honored as an American Hero

Captain Robert “Hoot” Gibson set to be inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame

Jun 19, 2003

DALLAS—June 19, 2003— Southwest Airlines pilot and former NASA astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson will be inducted in the Astronaut Hall of Fame this weekend at the Kennedy Space Center, along with Sally Ride, Dan Brandenstein, and Story Musgrave.

After an illustrious 18-year career at NASA, Gibson was hired as a Southwest Airlines first officer in November 1996. He was recently upgraded to captain for the airline in 2001.

Selected by NASA in January 1978, Gibson became an astronaut in August 1979 and made his first trip into space as pilot of Challenger in 1984. He later commanded Columbia in 1986, Atlantis in 1988, Endeavour in 1992, and Atlantis again in 1995 on the first shuttle mission to dock with Russia's Mir Space Station. Gibson has received multiple honors and medals for serving as a NASA astronaut as well as for the time he served in the United States Navy.

The Astronaut Hall of Fame is adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Fla. In the 1980s, the six surviving Mercury Seven astronauts conceived a place where space travelers could be remembered. Gibson and his fellow inductees will join 48 other astronauts who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame since 1990.

Gibson received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1969 and immediately entered active duty with the Navy. His flight experience includes more than 6,000 hours in more than 50 types of civil and military aircraft. He holds airline transport pilot, multi-engine, and instrument ratings, and has held a private pilot rating since age 17. Gibson also has completed more than 300 aircraft carrier landings.

Currently a resident of Murfreesboro, Tenn., Gibson is married to a NASA physicist, Dr. M. Rhea Seddon, and is a father of four.

Southwest Airlines, now the nation's fourth largest carrier in terms of Customer boardings, serves 59 airports in 58 cities in 30 states. The airline currently has more than 35,000 Employees and operates nearly 2,800 flights a day.