There’s nothing this guy hasn’t driven. Sure, he flew the Space Shuttle Discovery, but did you know that he also drove the Zamboni? He’s never heard of the word, “can’t.” If it’s an adventure, and it’s on the planet (or off), Billy O will sniff it out and run it down.
He is an adventurer, writer, aviator and founding member of Adventure Write.
It’s his job to plan our expeditions, then train, outfit and keep us safe for them, which, he’d tell you, is no small task.
Billy O is also our company pilot.
Born an Air Force brat on 29 March 1965 in Virginia, he spent the first 10 years of his life hopping from base to base across the country with his family.
In 1975, he and his family moved to Anchorage, Alaska, which Billy O has considered home ever since.
Educated, with papers to prove it
- Professional Organization Membership:
Accelerating His Life
Billy O joined the Navy in 1988, right after completing his undergraduate degree. He received his commission
as an Ensign from Aviation Officer Candidate School in November 1988.
In 1989, he entered flight training in Texas and was designated a Naval Aviator in September 1990.
He then reported to Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 101 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California for initial F/A-18 training. Upon completion of training, he was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 146 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California where he made overseas deployments aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch.
While assigned to VFA-146, he attended the US Navy Fighter Weapons School, TOPGUN, and was assigned as the Squadron Air-to-Air Weapons and Tactics Officer. Billy O was selected for the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland and began the course in January of 1995. After graduation in December 1995, he was assigned to Strike Aircraft Test Squadron as an F/A-18 Project Officer and Test Pilot.
In February 1997, he went back to the United States Naval Test Pilot School as an Instructor flying the F/A-18, T-2, and U-6 aircraft. In February 1998, he transferred to Carrier Air Wing 8 at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, where he was the Strike Operations Officer. That same year, he was selected for the astronaut program.
Billy O reported to NASA's Johnson Space Center in August 1998. After completing 2 years of training and evaluation, he qualified for space flight assignment as a shuttle pilot. Prior to his flight, he performed technical duties in the Astronaut Office Advanced Vehicles Branch and CAPCOM Branch. He completed his mission as pilot on STS-116 in December 2006 and has logged over 308 hours in space.
In May 2007 and at the request of the US Navy, Billy O returned to Navy duty at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. He retired from an exciting and storied 20-year Navy career in November 2008.
Shortly thereafter, Billy O accepted the post of Test Pilot Instructor at the National Test Pilot School
Expeditions and Adventures
Billy O has hiked and biked, climbed and paddled, canyoneered and mountaineered, and flown and rocketed in all parts of the world.
He has trained and explored with several world-class organizations, first as a Boy Scout in Alaska then as a Naval Aviator and Astronaut.
A graduate of two separate National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) courses, military survival training and astronaut training, he has acquired an enviable survival skill set.
Billy O has trained with US military survival specialists, Russian cosmonauts, the Canadian military and has completed NASA’s expeditionary training programs.
He has participated in several expeditions to remote locations including Antarctica and Low Earth Orbit.
Expedition teams, both amateur and expert, benefit from his unparalleled competence and patience in the field, where his skills as a natural teacher, a capable leader, and a hard-working team-member shine.
Although exploring the Arctic wonders remains his first passion, he constantly seeks a wide variety of adventures both on and off the planet.
Some of his more memorable experiences include:
USS Nimitz (1993) "If It Flies, It Dies"
: Pacific and Indian Oceans, Persian Gulf
: 6 months
: A military deployment to southwest Asia aboard the USS Nimitz
as an F-18 pilot to enforce the no-fly zone over Iraq. The idea was to always fly like someone was trying to kill you, especially around the boat. But more men were lost to “the bottle” than to the enemy.
Check out stories from this and other aviation adventures in our
online magazine coming in 2009
Russia (2000) "Filling Up on Borscht and Vodka"
: Star City, Russia
: 1 Week
: Learning how the "other guys" do space flight, while spending a couple nights out in the woods in a good ol' American Teepee.
Antarctica (2000/2001) "Protecting Your Planet Since 1976"
: Meteorite Hills, Antarctica
: 40 days
: A search for meteorites in the hills and ice around the Darwin Mountains, just off the Antarctic polar plateau. The search uncovered over 800 extra-terrestrial rocks.
Canada (2004) "Working as a Dog Team"
: Valcartier, Quebec, Canada
: 6 days
: Training in the brisk January days at Canada’s Army winter training grounds north of Quebec City.
What do you get when you mix a Swede, a Russian, a Canadian, and three Americans together on a daily mission to move camp in temps as low as 40 below? Quite a dog team!
Pacific Northwest (2004) "Because It Was There"
: Disappointment Cleaver, Mt. Rainier, WA
: 3 days
: A mountain climb and a wedding at 11,000 feet. (And, no...it wasn't mine!)
Prince William Sound (2004) "Up A Crick, Paddle In Hand"
: Knight Island, Prince William Sound, AK
: 10 days
: NOLS exercise in teambuilding and leadership: The timing for paddling one- and two-man kayaks around the once oil-drenched shores of Knight Island couldn't have been better...as a wounded ankle needed to nurse itself back to health.
Mexico (2005) "A Brisk Wind"
: Mt. Orizaba, Mexico
: 5 days
: An attempt at the tallest mountain in Mexico. Some days you beat the mountain...some days it beats you.
Utah (2005) "Gravity Check"
: Robber's Roost Canyon, Canyonlands, UT
: 10 days
: A NOLS course with a space shuttle crew turned canyoneering and repelling into a lesson: Learn to trust your crew before you leave the planet.
Low Earth Orbit (2006) "It's Hard to Eat GORP in Space"
: Low Earth Orbit
: 12 days
: STS-116, a Space Shuttle Discovery mission to the International Space Station. 8 days docked to the ISS, 4 spacewalks, one world record and a solar array with an attitude.
Find out more about Billy O's presentation, "It's Hard To Eat GORP In Space," in our ASTRONAUT STUFF
For a pilot, Billy O is surprisingly articulate. Forget what you hear over the airline intercom…this guy actually has personality. He has written several short stories, articles and technical papers, and he's given numerous presentations during his career with NASA and the Navy.
He also wrote regularly from space in a mission blog
hosted by NASA.
Billy O's writing has been published in several newspapers and magazines worldwide, including:
- The New York Times
- USA Today
- People Magazine
- The Washington Post
- The Boston Globe
- Oprah Magazine
- The Air Force Times
- The New York Sun
- The New York Post
- The Pittsburgh Post Gazette
- Al Jazeera
- The Hamburger Abendblatt (Germany)
- Spiegel Online (Germany)
- The Telegraph (UK)
- The Australian (That would be out of Australia)
And he wasn't even trying...
Billy O could just write a thousand words about an expedition and call it a day, but ever since he discovered the camera, he’s had it in hand for all of his adventures. Billy O’s photos from space have been highlighted in magazines and newspapers worldwide.
This one of New Zealand is among his favorites:
Billy O was bitten by the aviation bug in 1979, when at 14 years old, he flew his first solo in a glider. Aviation Fever set in, and he never recovered. He has now logged over
4000 hours in nearly 60 types of aircraft, including over 200 carrier-arrested landings and over 300 hours in Space
as the pilot of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
- 1979 - First Solo, Schweizer 2-33 glider
- 1984 - Private Pilot (SEL), Cessna 152
- 1985 - Private Pilot Float Plane Rating (SES), Citabria 7GCBC
- 1989 - First Carrier Arrested Landing, T-2C
- 1990 - Designated a Naval Aviator, TA-4J
- Commercial (MEL)/Instrument Ratings
- 1991 - First Night Carrier Arrested Landing, F/A-18
- 1992 - Night Vision Goggle Pilot, F/A-18
- 1993 - 29 combat missions - Operation Southern Watch/Iraq, F/A-18
- 1994 - US Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) Graduate, F/A-18
- 1995 - US Navy Test Pilot School Graduate, F/A-18
- 1996 - Category C Test Pilot, F/A-18
- 1997 - Instructor, US Navy Test Pilot School, F/A-18, T-2, U-6
- Airline Transport Pilot (MEL), U-21
- 1998 - Selected NASA Pilot Astronaut, T-38, Shuttle Training Aircraft,
- 2006 - Pilot STS-116, OV-103, Space Shuttle Discovery
- 2007 - Commercial Float Plane Rating (Commercial SES), Cessna 172
Billy has been flying things since he was 14.
I always knew he'd become an astronaut.
I think it was my influence on him when he was a kid.
© Copyright 2007-2009 Adventure Write. Website design by Adventure Write.
Source of Space Photos: NASA