Our Link to Communication

Low Earth orbit satellite to enhance situational awareness

By: 1st Lt. Nick Nowland, USAF, Daedalian Member #4921

Drones, missile strikes and late-night raids on enemy high-value targets — these are the bits of news that occasionally percolate out of the United States’ ongoing conflicts. However, behind all the advanced technology and dramatic action, there is a system that provides American forces with their real secret weapon: situational awareness of the battlefield. Precise weapons, high flying aircraft and meticulously trained special operators are only useful if you can determine friend from foe in the battle-space, and more importantly, know where they are located. Situational awareness, or SA, is the fuel that keeps the U.S. military’s combat operations running.

     Military leaders throughout history have understood the importance of SA, and it has been a consistent feature of great generals from Caesar to Zhukov. A commander who better understands their troop’s location in relation to the enemy can seize the offensive initiative and attack with confidence. The need for greater combat SA became especially clear to the American military in World War Two. Studies noted that those on the battlefield with the most SA usually lacked efficient means to accurately communicate that information to those units in need of that awareness. This was particularly clear during the massive Japanese kamikaze attacks on the U.S. Navy during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The Navy could not effectively vector intercepting fighters onto kamikazes early enough to prevent the Japanese from killing almost 5,000 sailors and sinking dozens of ships. The U.S. military did not forget those painful lessons, and by the 1960s, the Navy and Air Force were both developing technologies to enable units on the battlefield to share information about their location and the position of enemy units.

     One of these technologies developed into a system the U.S. military still uses today. The system has had a variety of names, but its current label is Link 16. It is a family of technologies that use radios as tactical data links that enable air, ground and sea assets to communicate and track each other’s locations on screens. Link 16 users can also share battlefield points of interest and identify enemies. Thus, a soldier sitting in a Humvee under camouflage netting can have the same level of SA as a command-and-control aircraft circling the battlefield at 20,000 feet.

     Link 16 is critical in the United States’ current conflicts for a variety of reasons, with one of its most useful aspects lying in its ability to help large numbers of aircraft in small operating areas safely deconflict. However, as the U.S. prepares for great power competitions, Link 16 will become even more critical. Quickly differentiating friend from foe is vital when that foe is a highly capable SU-35 darting towards friendly aircraft or when an unidentified vehicle is a Russian multiple-launch-rocket-system about to unleash a barrage on American infantry. Seconds matter in these life-and-death situations, and Link 16 helps
arm combatants with the information they need to make split-second decisions.

     Fortunately, Link 16 is becoming even more capable as the Air Force is working with private industry to build a low Earth orbit satellite capable of extending the range of Link 16 networks and connecting them to larger constellations of satellites. This spacecraft represents a crucial step in the effort to transform Link 16 from a line-of-sight to a beyond-line-of-sight system that will greatly improve its SA — providing additional capabilities. Building Link 16 transmitters into new satellites is also relatively inexpensive, thus adding Link 16 capabilities to planned satellites is financially feasible and would enable a fleet of them to provide persistent coverage for military assets around the globe. A greater number of satellites also means the system is more durable and can survive an enemy destroying a number of satellites, a real possibility in future conflicts. 

     Furthermore, the battlegrounds of the future will certainly involve mass amounts of communications jamming, and the network infrastructure of Link 16 makes it resistant to this. For a future armored company commander sitting on a battlefield seething with electronic warfare that renders most of their radios useless, Link 16 may be the only connection to friendly forces this lonely commander may possess. It could be their sole means of understanding the battlefield beyond the scopes of their tank sights and Mark I eyeballs. 

     Thus, if amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics, then forward-looking thinkers should talk Link 16.

A Pilot’s View: The U.S. Space Force

Commentary By: Lt. Col. Ron Davis, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #238

The founding of the United States Space Force in 2019 marked a milestone in our defense establishment. It is the first new military service created since the U.S. Air Force in 1947. Its creation acknowledged the importance of space operations and advanced technology, both as a capability in and of itself, but more importantly as a set of tools that have become force multipliers for our warfighters.

     Founding the Space Force was certainly less contentious than the decades-long battle for an independent Air Force. We didn’t see any bombing of captured battleships, public accusations about safety or a very visible court-martial to sway public opinion. There wasn’t even a small group of air-minded junior officers at the then-Maxwell Field creating a fraternal order to advocate for and honor military aviation. While the concept had been discussed decades ago, in 2017, several influential congressional advocates pushed for its establishment. After getting endorsed by President Donald Trump, it was made part of the 2019 Defense Authorization Bill. 

     Partnered with the Air Force in the Department of the Air Force, the Space Force now boasts its own four-star leadership — highly experienced in space operations — a headquarters at the Pentagon and a personnel cadre. Many of its initial members, some 16,000 at this time, transferred from the Air Force; however, procedures are in place for personnel from other branches to transfer in. 

     According to USSF’s website, to minimize cost and duplication, the Department of the Air Force will continue to “provide support functions that includes logistics, base operating support, civilian personnel management, business systems, IT support, audit agencies, etc.” The enabling legislation mandated a “zero-sum” standup budget, with clearly worded guidance on avoiding duplication of efforts.

     Today’s Space Force bases are mission-centered and have long histories of supporting the space mission.

Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado, has a long history of space surveillance and missile warning operations. It now manages the legacy and developing systems for this highly technical task.

Los Angeles Space Force Base, California, has hosted the Department of Defense’s premier space development and acquisition activity for over 65 years. Now designated Space Systems Command, that organization manages an annual $11 billion budget that covers the full spectrum of space system development and sustainment.

Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, and its associated Eastern Range look back on more than 70 years as America’s busiest space portal. The current launch pace at Patrick Space Force Base/Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the adjoining NASA Kennedy Space Center were at an all-time high of 37 successful launches in 2021, driven in part by the success and energy of commercialized space access. Its mission falls under the Space Systems Command.

Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, transitioned from the Air Force to the Space Force in 2020. Its mission is varied but includes hosting the Space Operations Command, which in turn oversees most other ongoing Space Force activities, including the Space Training and Readiness Command. 

Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, headquartered at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado. This operating location performs most of the control functions for our nation’s space assets. For pilots, that includes the vital GPS.

Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, provides operational, geographic and technical advantages compared to other launch venues, especially in testing long-range weapons (its mission for many years in support of the Strategic Air Command), and in enabling launch to polar orbits. It is also subordinate to Los Angeles-based Space Systems Command.

     The Space Force is developing its own formal and informal culture, uniforms and duty titles. It certainly has captured a younger generation’s attention. According to the Air Force Academy, of the 1,019 2021 graduates, 114 of those are commissioning into the
Space Force. 

     Whether the Space Force will grow a unique culture such as the Marine Corps does within the Department of the Navy, or focuses on its technology-heavy mission, will soon be seen. For instance, will there be any aviation element within the Space Force? This will be seen later. In the meantime, we can look back some 70 years, and remind ourselves that the Air Force still had privates and corporals as late as 1952. Change happens, and usually at its own pace.

A Sit Down with a NASA Solar System Ambassador

By: Ms. Autumn Bernhard, Daedalus Flyer Editor & Order of Daedalians Communications Manager

Autumn Bernhard: What drew you to the Navy?

Tim Pinkney: It all started when I was 5 years old when I first took control of the family airplane. My dad had been a co-pilot and flew B-24 bombers, so when he got out of the service, he bought himself an airplane. My mom learned to fly and became quite an accomplished aviatrix. So, I was flying at 5. I got my private pilot’s license when I was three months out of high school, and got my multi-engine rating shortly before I joined the Navy. Dad was an enthusiast in glider soaring, so he and I had father-son competitions. He held the record for the highest non-engine flight of 34,000 feet over the Colorado Rockies. I held the family endurance record for staying aloft for 6.5 hours.

I was born and raised in an aviation family, so military service was the way to go. I asked my dad which service I should go into knowing he was Army Air Corps/Air Force, assuming he would say Air Force. But he said, “Go first-class; go Navy.” After graduation in the 1970s, I went through flight training and got my wings of gold. I got stashed at Naval Air Station Lemoore as a navigation aid. I was itching to go to Vietnam, but the war was “over” in ’73 with the peace agreement, and I thought I missed my opportunity at a career. Every aspiring officer needs to have a war in their resume if they wanted to go up the ranks. I planned to be an admiral, so I was really disappointed that I didn’t get to go to war.

But we joined an electronic warfare squadron, VAQ-137, and it sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge for Vietnam the day my daughter turned 2. When I got back, she was nearly 3. My dad met me at the dock with my family and I said, “Why is the Navy first class?” The short version is, the Army Air Corp always lived in tents and he was stationed at Kodiak, Alaska, so there were pretty harsh conditions. “But the Navy got Quonset huts, and man was that first class,” dad said. I learned to always ask when someone says something is the best to ask why.

I joined the Navy Reserves after seven years of active duty. I spent 15 years in the Reserves with the same squadron. So we started as young junior officers, and 12 years later, we were all commanding officers as our seniority gained. I continued to fly gliders and took my last flight less than a year ago.

AB: Where did your attraction to the last frontier come from?

TP: When we lived in Redondo Beach, (then)-Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a missile when I was 9. As it took off into the sunset, we watched the vapor trail and that created my fascination with space. I had, until recently, put down a deposit with Virgin Galactic to go to space. I wanted to be an astronaut, and I looked at the application back when I was on the aircraft carrier. I didn’t have enough math to enter, so I didn’t. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to go to space. So, I was willing to buy my way into it. But when Virgin Galactic raised their prices to $450,000, I thought I could do a lot more good to help the world rather than help my childhood dream by investing the money somewhere else. Blue Origin hasn’t set their price yet, so I’m waiting to see. I’m not giving up. There have been less than 500 people to space ever, so that number is going to double very quickly, but to still be out of 7 billion people to get off Earth and look at it, is something I look forward to.

The NASA Solar System Ambassador program is a public engagement effort that works with motivated volunteers across the nation to communicate the science and excitement of NASA’s space exploration missions and discoveries with the people in their communities.

AB: How did you become a NASA Solar System Ambassador?

TP: A friend invited me to a presentation he was making as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. I thought, “Gee, I could do that and would love to do that.” In my first three years (2016-2019), I did 50 presentations. In 2020, I did 24 and last year 21. The requirement is three a year. Being an ambassador allows me to be a space geek and remain the excited 9-year-old that saw his first rocket!

AB: What is the process like to become an ambassador?

TP: As of last year, there were 1,071 ambassadors throughout the United States. It takes some vetting, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. You just have to have an interest in space. There is an orientation on what an ambassador does and an ethics class as well. We are ethically required to report honest things and not make things up. We don’t have to run our presentations by NASA. NASA invites us to almost weekly programs online where an expert speaks on their subject. For example, we got to have a one-hour presentation on the Mars Rover Perseverance team that drives the rover, what they look at and the decisions they made. So I have access to a library of more than eight years of presentations on almost any topic in the solar system.

AB: What do your presentations cover?

TP: I have 15 already prepared presentations — one on every planet and then some of the specific missions. Most people want to have relevance in the presentations. Two libraries wanted a 10-month seminar starting with the sun and working our way through the planets and touching on a few other topics I didn’t have knowledge about that. So I took what NASA made available to the ambassadors. Some ambassadors have an astronomy focus, some have an astrobiological focus, so they tend to be narrower. I just look at what NASA gives me and go from there.

AB: Who is in the presentation audience?

TP: My youngest has been 5 years old, he knew amazing stuff. I’ve also given presentations to people who were all seniors. Inspiring the youth is something I’ve always wanted to do. With the Aerospace Museum in California, where I was on the board of directors for 10 years and the deputy director in the interim period while they searched for a permanent fit, our focus was 5th-grade kids. I would do presentations there and to see their eyes light up, and do hands-on things. All we are trying to do is out of a class of 100, spark three or five kids into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). I’m amazed by what the American public does not know about the space program. It is wonderful to inform, educate and expose people to what our space program is. I was thinking about how long I wanted to do this. I’m enthusiastic about life, and I’m super enthusiastic about space, so as long as I have life, I think I will be doing space.

AB: What excites you about what NASA is doing today?

TP: Almost every planet has something going on. It not only excites me, but it captivates me. The Parker Solar Probe: We have never had a probe get that close to the sun, it’s literally touching the corona. Juno was launched in 2011 to Jupiter. Cassini has been on Saturn for 13 years. Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter, landed in 2021. In 2027, we are launching Dragonfly — a drone that’s the size of a pick-up truck, eight blades, 900 pounds and is nuclear powered — to Saturn’s moon, Titan — the only named moon with an atmosphere and it has liquid on it. It will land in 2034. James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) is going to answer questions we don’t even know to ask. It will be stunning, and we are going back to within 200 million years of the Big Bang —13.7 billion years ago — we are going back 13.5 billion years. We are going to see the first stars, and the first galaxies form. It’s going to revolutionize astrophysics and our understanding of what happened in the Big Bang. In one year, we will be saying, “Before Webb, we believed and understood this, and now it’s different.” We know the universe is expanding. We know that galaxies are together because of gravitational pull, but they are getting further and further apart and losing their gravity so everything will go into blackness. Webb is going to tell us a lot about that. It took 9 years to design and redesign Webb, 11 years to build it and 5 years of testing and making sure everything worked right. NASA worked to make sure it was deployed without any hitches. They have learned so much and prepared so well.

Being an ambassador allows me to be a space geek and remain the excited 9-year-old that saw his first rocket!

AB: What are your thoughts on space now being considered a warfighting domain?

TP: I don’t feel adequate to talk about the military aspects of that, but it’s a much-needed branch. If I were that age, that’s the branch I would want to be in. China is the scary force to be reckoned with in all aspects. I think scientist to scientist, there’s not a problem. It’s just forms of government — democracy versus communism — that gets in the way. We will be fighting that for quite some time because if we don’t we will all be speaking Chinese.

The Daedalian Story


When war broke out in Europe in 1914, the airplane was hardly more than a dangerous plaything employed at fairs and circuses. Its potential was regarded lightly, when not contemptuously dismissed. Yet, in less than three years, it had gained such a measure of military respectability on the fighting front that when the United States entered the war, the Allies requested the United States furnish 5,000 combat pilots on the Western Front by early spring of 1918!

This was a gigantic order. In military aviation, the United States had lagged far behind. Only 40 military pilots had been trained in this country and 11 of those had been killed. Twenty-eight airplanes had been purchased by the government of which 16 had been wrecked. In the recent Mexican operations, the entire equipment of the Air Unit of the Army, which consisted of the 1st Aero Squadron, had been almost completely demolished. From this meager nucleus of military airmen, 5,000 pilots had to be trained in one year.

The call for volunteers went out, for then as now, no one would be required to fly against his will. From all walks of life and all parts of the country, some 40,000 young men answered our country’s call for pilots. By the time the Armistice was signed, some 11,000 had received their wings in the Army and another 2,000 in the Navy and Marine Corps. All were motivated by a patriotic desire to serve their country in its hour of need.

After the Armistice, many attempts were made to form organizations to solidify the bonds of aerial comradeship that had been molded in crisis during World War I. Several groups were formed by those whose foundations were purely social and retrospective gradually faded into obscurity. In 1921, while speaking to World War I pilots who had just flown for him to sink the Ostfriesland off the Virginia coast, Gen. Billy Mitchell urged the creation of an organization that would honor the World War I military pilots as the first to fly their country’s airplanes in time of war.

Concurrently, in the military establishments, small groups of officers informally discussed the formation of similar organizations, but seldom were any sizable number stationed in the same locality to take action. At some of the larger bases, organizations were established, but they soon expired. This mass demise was due not to any erosion of friendship but rather to the inevitable transfers which overwhelmed organizational unity. Additionally, for the military pilots dedicated to building a military air arm of the future, it was not enough to gather together for the principle of reliving the past.

In 1932, new impetus was given to the idea of establishing a formal organization of World War I military pilots. War clouds had begun to gather in Asia and Europe as nations began their retreat from powerful aggressors. The fear that apparently guided their decision seemed to penetrate our own national psychology. What was needed was some sort of standard, some solid reason that would remind us all and proclaim to the world that in the United States there was unity, patriotism, courage, and the spirit of self-sacrifice that placed service to the nation above personal safety. There was also in this country, in the form of our growing air power, the means to preserve the freedoms which our forebears had established.

In 1933, a representative group of World War I military pilots stationed at Maxwell Field, Alabama, consolidated these ideas which had long been forming. The result was that on 26 March 1934, there was formally instituted the Order of Daedalians composed of those commissioned officers who, no later than the Armistice of 1918, held ratings as pilots of heavier-than-air powered aircraft. These World War I military pilots, in the preamble to the constitution of the Order, stated as their purpose: “…to perpetuate the spirit of patriotism and love of country … and the high ideals of self-sacrifice which placed service to the nation above personal safety and position, and to further cement the ties of comradeship which bound us together at that critical hour of our nation’s need…”

Since, according to legend, Daedalus was the first person to accomplish heavier-than-air flight, it was considered the name “Order of Daedalians” was both fitting and proper for an organization composed of those who were the first to fly their country’s airplanes in time of war.

2022: The Year of Space

By: Ms. Autumn Bernhard, Daedalus Flyer Editor & Order of Daedalians Communications Manager

Science fiction dubbed space as the final frontier in 1966. But in a time that resembles science fiction more than the previous centuries of industrial based, is space still the final frontier?

     The building blocks for the general public to reach space began back in October 1957 with the launch of the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, Sputnik. Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, went into orbit a few months later on Jan. 31, 1958. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space. In April 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

     Fast forward to 2020, and space exploration was still reserved for scientists and astronauts. Last year’s advances made space attainable for those with big names backed by a big bank account. While seeing celebrities on their way to touch the stars was exciting, that was just the beginning according to the Space Foundation. In fact, 2022 is poised to be the most aggressive year for space exploration – ever.

Fast Facts

Ninety countries are operating in space in January 2022.

Eight countries are consistently launching and can obtain orbital access.

Thirteen companies that regularly launched have recently reached orbital space or have acquired companies with orbital launch capability.

Six companies are very close to launch debuts (most planned for 2022).


     We traditionally think of space advances being created by the government or military. However, after policies and government investment changes, commercial companies were allowed to contribute and provide services to the federal government, military and general public.

     “So many entrepreneurs and innovators are coming to the table,” said Rich Cooper, Vice President of Strategic Communications & Outreach at the Space Foundation. “Everybody always thinks of the space race as to how it started. This isn’t so much a space race as it is space races. There are so many adventures that are happening in civil, commercial and research areas in space. There is no one size fits all opportunity or access point for space anymore.”

     When the Space Foundation started in the mid-1980s, we were in the era of the shuttle and commercial space was something that people thought about but never fully bought into. Now, the shuttle is parked as a museum exhibit and commercial space is here.

     “We now have more means to access orbital space and put astronauts and others into space than at any other time,” Cooper said. “This is an evolution that is the result of commercial, civil government as well as military investment. They’re all building off of the lessons learned and experiences of those before them. What we’re seeing with the commercial arena is they’re offering opportunities to do things a whole lot different, a whole lot better and doing things in far more novel fashion than we ever might have imagined possible.”

2021 At A Glance

— Private citizens made it to space via commercial efforts by Virgin Galactic (one flight, suborbital), Blue Origin (two flights, suborbital) and SpaceX (one flight with Inspiration4 crew, orbital).

— Had the highest number of orbital space launches in history, narrowly surpassing 1967.

— The global space economy grew to $447 billion in 2020 and even grew in employment opportunities in 2021.

— James Webb Space Telescope launched on Christmas Day and will open a whole new chapter in astronomy and our greater understanding of our universe.


     In 2021, five systems allowed people to access space — Russian Soyuz vehicles, Chinese Shenzhou-13, SpaceX Dragon, Blue Origin’s New Shepard and Virgin Galactic’s system. 

This year, they will all fly again with two additional systems being put forward — NASA’s Orion and Boeing’s Starliner. According to Cooper, after Boeing and NASA get their test runs in, Sierra Space, a subsidiary company for Sierra Nevada Corporation, is looking to human-rate their spaceplane to carry crew and supplies to the International Space Station. 

     “This past year, we saw three different launch vehicles carry the public into space in three very different fashions,” Cooper said. “The exciting part about this is the diversity of players, opportunity and means create competition and choices. Whenever you have those in a marketplace, that’s good for consumers. The consumer is not just a taxpayer, it’s a corporate leader, an investor, an inventor and a critical infrastructure. All those people are now playing in this arena. There is no more dynamic marketplace than space.”

     The space marketplace is comprised of more countries, companies and citizens than ever before. This leads to more reasonable prices for reaching space orbit.

     “The revolution that has occurred over the past 10 to 15 years in bringing the cost down to access space cannot be ignored,” he said. “The cost has always been quite significant. When you develop new means and additional launch systems that can launch in a cheaper fashion, that brings the cost down. If you bring the cost down, that creates more access and opportunity for others.” 

     Depending on which company you ride with, a space ticket ranges from $450,000 to tens of millions of dollars.

     “When commercial air travel first started in this country, it had what was then significant price tags, but when more players got into that market, the price came down,” Cooper said. “That allowed more people to travel, expansion of that industry to contribute to even more jobs and expansion in the economy. I have no doubt, I think the same thing will happen here.”

     Today, space is a $447 billion global marketplace and is projected to become a $1 trillion economy within the next decade.

     “As more countries and companies put forward different launch vehicles and launch systems, you’re going to have new markets unfold,” he said. “That’s good for everybody because it creates jobs, enhances the demand for those products and services which allows for economic expansion and provides value-added to the lives of not just employees and customers, but to the larger community that these things are impacting. That can’t be understated.”

     This success shines a light on another obstacle: how to find a talented workforce to satisfy the demand. There have been a several companies that have several thousand job openings that they have not been able to fill due to a lack of quality applicants. 

     “These jobs come in all shapes and sizes with lots of different demands upon them, but making sure that each of those workers is adept and skilled enough to do those things is critically important,” Cooper said, noting the Space Foundation’s Center for Innovation is working to help solve this dilemma. “We are working with education leaders from top to bottom and various stakeholders to make sure we are doing the things we can to build that pipeline of talent that will deliver the workforce that we need to not only generate the $1 trillion economy but fulfill all the other bolder missions that we imagine.”

2022 Forecast

— NASA is scheduled to launch its Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule. SpaceX is preparing to launch its newest spacecraft, Starliner, for an orbital flight in early 2022. Boeing is scheduled to launch its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station in
May 2022. 

— At least 10 companies are slated to test new orbital rocket systems or spacecraft, which will almost double the number of companies capable of reaching orbit.

— Once the James Webb Space Telescope reaches L2 (Lagrange point 2) and is unfolded and operational, we will get our first images and information about the furthest reaches and earliest moments of our universe.


According to Cooper, space is a critical infrastructure that every infrastructure is connected to — transportation, health, food and agriculture, supply chain and public safety. 

     “All of those critical infrastructures are dependent on GPS. If you don’t have space, you don’t have GPS. It’s all about dependence,” he said. “It’s having the connectivity; it’s having the information that it reveals. It’s being able to maintain all of the secure communications that we need for not just military and national security efforts, but financial transactions. The transmission of information for public health needs or whatever else it might be.”

     This dependency will only increase over time with new technologies being developed.

     “If you take space away, yes, people could ride a horse or bike or drive a car that doesn’t have GPS systems in it. But let’s face facts, the utilization of those technological enhancements has made for safer, more efficient and more effective transportation across the board,” he said. “That’s the force multiplier and value-added that space can bring not just to the transportation and supply chain, but to every other infrastructure.”

     Thus, if those lines of connectivity are severed, it breaks the communication and the access is removed.  

     “You are certainly creating more risk and more threat to the success of jobs, operations and missions,” he said. “You’re compromising the security and the future benefits by removing that force multiplier. Space is a force multiplier that allows every infrastructure to do what it needs to do as it matures to the next level.

     “A day without space would have grave repercussions to both the national security and economic security of the countries on this planet,” Cooper said.


     The Space Foundation is a nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1983, that offers a gateway to education, information and collaboration for space exploration and space-inspired industries.

     1. A trusted source for information. Before Covid, the foundation would bring about 15,000 people together to share what’s going on in civil, commercial and military affairs, what’s happening with space, let alone the new technologies, investments and activities that were going on. But the symposium is just part of that.

     “Since we started our Center for Innovation and Education, we have been working to create what we call a lifelong learning culture that helps create that next generation of workforce that can satisfy the demands and jobs that need to be fulfilled,” Cooper said. “Space Force in many ways begins in a classroom, and if you don’t have the talent and aren’t giving teachers and educators the resources they need to develop that talent, they’re not going to be able to execute on the missions that you need them to do to provide for economic opportunity or national security which are critical to the success of this country and every other country on the planet.”

     2. A resource for education. Space Foundation’s ability to convene civil, commercial and military research parties together in a collaborative environment, allows them to help those organizations build relationships to do the next great things that they’re doing. 

     “We take the opportunity at Space Foundation to also pause and identify technologies that were developed for space that provide benefit to life here on Earth and help the public better understand and be more space aware of how space serves their day-to-day needs,” Cooper said. “Our Space Certification program and our Space Technology Hall of Fame identify the technologies that were developed for space and have transformed life on this planet, whether that be high-performance computing, whether that again be public health, satellite radio or broadband capacities. These are all things that came out of the space community that contributes to life here on Earth.”

     3. We are a collaborator in bringing different parties to the table. The foundation “executes a broad program of global engagement across all enterprises supporting global corporate members and ensuring a significant global presence.”

     “We at Space Foundation act as a global steward to make sure people understand what space is, the value it brings to them and the benefits it brings to life here on Earth,” Cooper said. “It is a privilege and an honor to be a steward of the global space community and help tell its story.

     “Space exploration is just one facet of today’s space environment. We certainly love the exploration and herald it, but it is one part of a multichapter story that is all being written at the same time,” he said. “There’s not just one story with space. There’s a multitude of them, and there are going to be even more multitudes. We’re in the opening chapters of this, and if you can’t get excited about that, I don’t know what else I can do for you.”

Brig Gen Robert L. Cardenas, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #3230

Brig Gen Robert L. Cardenas, USAF (Ret)

March 10, 1920 – March 10, 2022

Brig General Robert Cardenas passed peacefully in his sleep on 10 March 2022, his 102nd birthday.
General Cardenas had a very distinguished Air Force career. Some highlights included:

  • Establishing the Army Air Corps Glider School.
  • Flying the B-24 with the 44th Bomb Group during WWII. On his 20th mission his aircraft was shot down but he escaped capture and eventually returned to his unit in England.
  • Piloting a captured Me 262 and Ar 234 when assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field.
    Performing as the Officer in Charge and the pilot of the B-29 that launched Chuck Yeager in the Bell X-1 supersonic experimental aircraft.
  • Being the Chief Air Force Test Pilot of the YB-49 flying wing program.
  • Flying the F-105 on combat missions during the Vietnam conflict.
  • After his military service he worked with the VA to help establish the National Cemetery at Miramar.

General Cardenas received many military awards and decorations including the AF Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and DFC.
He was also inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.
At Flight 13’s Daedalians meeting on 10 March, his 102nd birthday, we made a toast to his very distinguished life.
We all salute General Cardenas for his outstanding military career, and we are proud that he was a long-time member of Daedalians San Diego Flight 13.


To read his full Air Force biography, click here.

Charles D’Olive: Ten Fun Facts


  1. He was the last WWI aviator to be declared an ace in 1963, his final victory being credited to him following a records correction.
  2. He entered the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps in 1917 as a private, quickly becoming a sergeant when ground school began. There were no barracks and no uniforms. 4th School Squadron Cadets received pay of $100 per month to finance boarding in Memphis, Tennessee where they used the bowl of the half-mile racetrack at the fairgrounds as a landing field. The Squadron had a total of three Jennies at the time, which were disassembled and transported by freight train to Ashburn Field, Chicago when the squadron was relocated. Cadets commissioned as lieutenants the day they soloed.                                           
  3. He was roommates with Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s youngest son, while the two attended gunnery school together in Arcachon.
  4. He was both the first in the 93rd Aero Squadron to score a victory on 12 September 1918, shooting down a Fokker D.VII near Vieville-en-Haye. The 93rd continues its legacy today as the 93rd Bomb Squadron, part of Air Force Reserve Command operating out of Louisiana.
  5. On 18 October 1918, the day he scored his fifth and final victory shooting down a German plane, he himself was also shot down.
  6. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross “for extraordinary heroism in action near St. Benoit, France, September 13, 1918, First Lieutenant D’Olive, in conjunction with another American pilot, engaged and fought five enemy planes. Outnumbered and fighting against tremendous odds, he shot down three enemy planes and outfought the entire enemy formation.”
  7. He joined the Daedalians in 1964, after being introduced to the organization by Howard Johnson at a formal dining out given by the 170th Fighter Group of the Montana Air National Guard. He had been invited to address a group of Montana’s surviving WWI pilots being honored at the event. Eddie Rickenbacker, fellow ace and good friend, was one of his references.
  8. Following the war, he became a business executive in Iowa. He remained active in several WWI aviation organizations and encouraged and mentored a number of young pilots throughout his life.
  9. The Air Force Reserve Command Historian Office commissioned a painting in 2016 of his September 1918 three-victory flight. It was unveiled at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on 1 October 2016.
  10. His definition of a hero, shared at a Daedalian event in 1971 was “dumb enough to get in a jam, lucky enough to shoot himself out while someone was watching.”



Daedalians In Space

Celebrating the pioneers of the final frontier

By: Ms. Taylor E. Watson, Order of Daedalians Operations Officer

For over 60 years, the Daedalians have accepted and welcomed leaders in the development of American space power into our organization. Since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created in July 1958, we have celebrated the achievements of those risking their lives for the benefit of all mankind through exploration on the final frontier.


Project Mercury was the first U.S. program to put humans in space. On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class. The “Original Seven” Mercury astronauts — Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper — were invited to become life members in the Order of Daedalians and were inducted on June 9, 1961. They all received the Pioneer Astronaut Award from the Order. During the program’s 25 flights from 1961-1963, astronaut and retired Marine Col. John Glenn, Daedalian Life Member #4134, made history by becoming the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth aboard the Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962. He wrote to the Daedalians following his mission saying, “Many things were learned from this and from the earlier flights of Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. Each flight is a stepping-stone in our ever-expanding manned flight research programs.” Glenn was honored by the Daedalians for his return to space on the shuttle Discovery on Oct. 29, 1998. At 77 years old, he became the oldest person to reach Earth orbit where he was the subject of several studies on aging.


In 1966, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, Daedalian Life Member #559, piloted Gemini VI and helped pioneer the techniques and theory for practical space rendezvous. He received the Harmon International Aviation Trophy twice for these accomplishments. He began his career as a fighter-interceptor pilot, entered Experimental Test Pilot School in 1958 and served as an astronaut from 1962 until 1975, logging 507 hours 43 minutes of space flight. In the 1970s, U.S.-Soviet political tensions that had accelerated the space race began to thaw. On July 17, 1975, the NASA Apollo capsule docked with the Soviet Soyuz capsule and Apollo Commander Stafford shook hands with Soyuz Commander Alexei A. Leonov, signifying the nations’ partnership on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. In his later career, he directed the start of the F-117 Stealth program and initial specs for the B-2. He also was part of the F-16 Weapon System Program Office team that received the Daedalian Weapon System Award in 1978. Stafford has also received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom.


In July of 1982, Mr. Christopher Kraft, former director of Johnson Space Center, was invited to join the Daedalians as an Honorary Member, becoming effective in February 1983. Kraft was involved in the manned space program beginning in 1945 with his contribution in the field of aeronautical flight research at NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). As part of the Space Task Group, he served as the flight director for all the Mercury missions and many of the Gemini missions. He became the director of NASA in 1972, a post he held until August 1982 after successfully seeing the space shuttle program through its orbital flight test phase. NASA’s space shuttle fleet consisting of Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour flew 135 missions and carried 355 different people to space over a 30-year period. The space shuttle was humanity’s first reusable spacecraft. The shuttle program conducted cutting-edge research we continue to reap the benefits of and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. Tragically, NASA lost two crews of seven in the 1986 Challenger accident and the 2003 Columbia accident.


Retired Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, Daedalian Life Member #8835, made history as the first female pilot aboard STS-63 for which she received the Harmon Trophy, and she was the first female commander of a Space Shuttle aboard STS-93. Of her four missions, STS-114 was the “return to flight” following the loss of Columbia, testing safety improvements and resupplying the International Space Station. During STS-114, Collins became the first astronaut to fly the Space Shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver to confirm there was no debris-related damage to the shuttle’s underbelly. Collins, one of America’s first female military pilots, has been a Daedalian since 1983. An active supporter of the organization throughout her entire career and currently, she is also a recipient of the Daedalian Distinguished Achievement Award for her achievements as an astronaut, including logging more than 872 hours in space.

In Glenn’s letter of invitation to join the Order of Daedalians from retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Harold L. Clark, Daedalian Founder Member #99, Clark wrote, “The name of the original aeronaut, Daedalus, was adopted by our Order because of his spirit and courage in entering regions never before attempted by Man in an entirely new method of propulsion… Today that spirit has reached its peak in the training of our 7 Astronauts to go far beyond what Daedalus or the World War I pilots could have done, and is well expressed as the ‘spirit of patriotism and self-sacrifice that places Nation above self.’” In an era when our military capabilities, as well as many of the conveniences of everyday life, are both dependent on and increasingly at risk, Daedalians continue our mission to “Advocate for air and space power and honor those who flew and fly.” We celebrate the legacy of our Founders and those Daedalians who have placed service before self in daring to “slip the surly bonds of Earth…and touch the face of God.”

Maj Charles F. Overstreet, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Member #12728

Maj Charles F. Overstreet, USAF (Ret)
October 30, 1937 – February 3, 2022

Charles “Charlie” Overstreet passed away on February 3, 2022. Charlie was born in 1937 to Charles and Zelma Overstreet. Charlie’s dad was a Coast Guard officer and his earliest memories were of being at Coast Guard Air Stations all around the country, watching airplanes with his dad and younger brother Lane Overstreet. This inspired a lifelong passion for aviation and patriotism.

Upon graduation from the University of Miami, Charlie was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the USAF.  He entered pilot training at Big Spring, Texas where he met his future wife Mayre Sue. They married in the summer of 1961 when he finished B-47 Stratojet bomber training and was assigned to Forbes AFB, Kansas. While in Kansas, Charlie and Mayre Sue had two sons.  The oldest Charles Overstreet, was born in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crises, Charlie had to take a couple of hour off nuclear alert to be at the hospital. James Overstreet was born just before leaving for B-52 Stratofortess bomber combat crew transition training at Castle AFB, California. In 1969 Charlie and his B-52 combat crew joined the fray in Vietnam flying 55 combat missions during Operation Arc Light. Upon returning from the South East Asia, Charlie left active duty service.

In 1971 the US Customs Service Sky Marshal program hired Charlie and in 1972 he gained a Special Agent/Pilot position in San Antonio, TX.  He transferred to DEA in 1973 as one of the initial stand up cadre. With-in a couple of years he helped stand up the air branch supporting sensitive counter narcotics’ operation, sometimes doing things with airplanes that is generally frowned upon today. In 1985 he transferred to El Paso, retiring from DEA in 1994. Refusing to slow down, for 17 years Charlie taught as a substitute teacher at Coronado High School. After retiring from teaching Charlie became a volunteer at the War Eagles Air Museum, he just loved being around airplanes! Charlie enjoyed working with his colleagues on the War Eagle museum staff and as a docent for visiting students.

One of his most recent and passionate endeavors was honoring our Texas and New Mexico veterans through the organization and development of the Santa Teresa Veterans Memorial Park in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. He enjoyed hunting, skeet/trap shooting, cigars, and traveling around the world with his family and friends. Charlie was a member of Safari Club International and The Order of the Daedalians.

Service will be held at Martin Funeral Home, 128 N. Resler Drive, El Paso TX 79912 on Monday, February 14, 2022. Visitation will begin at 1000 with funeral services at 1100. Commitment ceremonies will take place at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery at 1400.

Memorial donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Veterans Project-Santa Teresa Charitable Foundation, 2660 Airport Road #780, Santa Teresa NM 88008 in memory of Charles F. Overstreet.

‘The Best Kept Secret of WW2’ — A conversation with WASP Nell Bright

Interview by: Ms. Errin Phou

     Errin Phou: Can you tell me a little bit about your career path and what led you to becoming a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP)?

     Nell Bright: I decided when I was eight years old that I wanted to learn to fly because my dad took me out to the pasture in West Texas where the World War One planes would come in, land and take people up. I got to go up in an open cockpit plane when I was 8 years old.

     I finished college when I was 19, so I was ready to start taking flying lessons. In 1943, I saw an article that the military was going to train women to fly military airplanes, in what was then the Army Air Corps, for the first time in history. I already had my license and 75 hours of flying when I read this, and I applied and was accepted into the 7th class. We had the exact same training the men did. Of course, at that time of Pearl Harbor, the military was very short of pilots and needed all the pilots they could get. 

     So it was quite an honor for us, as women, to get to fly the military airplanes. There were 25,000 women that applied, and of that, 1,800 were accepted and out of that, 1,074 graduated and got our wings.

WASP Nell Bright

     I believe 57 graduated in our class, and I was chosen among 20 to go to B-25 transition school, the medium bomber. Most women hadn’t flown the B-25 before that.

     After we were approved for training, we were stationed at Sweetwater, TX, and went through primary, basic and advanced there. Then the 20 of us went to Major Field, Sacramento, CA, where we logged a little over 165 hours in the B-25 and got our first pilot rating.

     We were sent to Biggs Field in El Paso, TX, to a tow-target squadron to tow targets and do other kinds of missions like searchlight mission strike and so forth to train the men that were going into combat who were stationed at Fort Bliss at that time.

      Our mission was to fly in the states, so that the men could go overseas in combat. We were not allowed to go out of the United States, so we picked up a lot of the flying that the men always did here. We were promised that we would be militarized — we were technically civil service that would be militarized when we finished our training. But that didn’t happen.

     In 1944, Congress had voted, by three votes, that we didn’t deserve to be militarized, so we were deactivated in December ’44, and our records were frozen for 30 years. We finally got our veterans status in 1977 when they decided that they would start training women to fly military airplanes again.The publicity they put out stated for the first time in history, women were going to learn to fly military airplanes. Well, we didn’t appreciate that at all. So we started things through Congress, and that’s how we got our military status and veteran benefits after 30 years.

     We felt we were serving our country. They needed us at that time. It was a wonderful experience for us to fly the military airplanes because they were, of course, a lot bigger than what we’d flown before.

I was checked out in 11 of the military airplanes because we had to fly different airplanes for different missions that we flew in the tow-target squadron.

     We had a wonderful time. It was something we felt was needed at the time and a little unusual, I guess. It took quite a while for people to realize there were women pilots in WW2. A lot of people still don’t know it. We are the best kept secret of WW2. There are only about 25 left out of the 1,000.

     It was an honor. It takes a few years to realize how much of an honor it really was.

We felt we were serving our country and doing something necessary, but it was also a challenge for us to show that the women could fly the same airplanes and do our job in that field also.

     EP: What were some of the challenges you experienced?

     NB: We were already flying, so the challenge was to learn the same airplanes that the men were flying, and to show that women could do the same thing. In that era, there were already some famous female pilots like Amelia Earhart and Jacqueline Cochran, who was our commanding officer for the whole group. She was a very strong woman, and great person. Probably, if it hadn’t been for Jackie, we would have never had the opportunity to do this. 

     We felt we were serving our country and doing something necessary, but it was also a challenge for us to show that the women could fly the same airplanes and do our job in that field also.

     EP: What were your day-to-day tasks like?

     NB: During training, we flew in the mornings. Our classes had two flights. Flight 1 would fly in the morning, attend ground school in the afternoon, and instrument training in the evenings. The next week, we would do the opposite. We did night flying and instrument training so we would have our instrument rating when we graduated. 

     After we graduated, we lived on base and were treated as officers, because everyone thought we were since we had graduated from flight school too, even though we were technically civil service. 

     We did a lot of flying. We would fly the P-47 and the two Navy helldivers, the A-24 and A-25, on strafing missions to strafe the troops that were going out in the desert to teach them what was going to happen when they were in combat. Of course, we didn’t shoot at them, but we made a lot of noise.

     In the evening, we would fly the twin engine Beech, teaching the boys how to use the search lights. They would have to follow us in the patterns that we would fly. 

     In the day and night, we would tow targets behind us, and they would shoot at the targets, and hopefully hit the targets and not our airplane, which mostly they did. In our squadron, we didn’t have any accidents like that, but some places around the country did.

 It was an honor. It takes a few years to realize how much of an honor it really was.

     EP: What skills do you think are important for someone interested in flying?

     NB: Well, in the first place, I think you have to really want to fly; you have a passion for it. I’ve had people ask me, “Weren’t you scared?” and my answer to that is, “If you are scared, you shouldn’t be flying in the first place.” You not only have to have a passion for it, but you have to have a good education for it. Especially nowadays.

     I think you have to have a determination — have a goal set and go after it and make it. Sometimes, it doesn’t work, but if you want to fly, you’ve got to really want to do it.

     EP: What are some things you wish you would have known as you started out in your career?

     NB: I remember being told when I was growing up, I should set goals for what I want to do, and I can do anything I want to if I want it bad enough.

     When I decided I wanted to fly, I had a lot of support from my family and parents. They said if that’s what you want to do, then do it. I think that was a little bit unusual for parents with the girls. I mean the boys could go off and fly and do what they wanted, and it was fine. It was a little different for the girls in that era. But I think all of us had pretty strong backgrounds like that.

     EP: What is your philosophy of public service, and why is it important to our nation right now?

     NB: We have to have good people in public service that are going to do things for our country if we are going to keep it like we all fought for. 

     Of course, I really love the military, and I think they should get whatever they need. I think the military is necessary, and we don’t need a war to have a military. There are a lot of things that they can do, and women have shown a lot of what they can do. I think that should be respected.

     I think there is a large aviation future, and it’s great.