Edward Higgins White
Jet fighter and astronaut
Ed White was born on November 14, 1930, in San Antonio, Texas. When he was just 12, he went up in a T-6 trainer with his dad as a test flight. Since his dad was in the military, he was always moving to new places. He attended West Point and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in science and then enlisted into the United States Air Force. There he was soon sent to Germany and flew F-86 sabers and F-100's. After White returned to the United States, he wanted to become an astronaut because he thought he was the right person for the job. He decided getting an advanced degree would give him an edge so he enrolled in the University of Michigan and in 1959, he received a degree in aeronautical engineering.
Becoming an Astronaut
Ed White was selected in 1962 as a member of the second group of astronauts. He was called the most physically fit astronaut and was chosen to go with James A. McDivitt on a four day orbital flight on the Gemini 4. The mission was launched on June 3, 1965, and on the third orbit, White went out into space to become the first man ever propel himself into space with a maneuvering unit. White stayed out of the capsule for 20 minutes before reluctantly returning.
The mission of Apollo 1 was to be the first crew flight to go into space, but ended up being nothing like that. During one of the simulations, the oxygen level rose to dangerous levels in the astronauts suits and when Gus Grissom moved slightly, it ignited a fire inside the cockpit of the command module. The astronauts failed to complete the safety procedure and they died from carbon monoxide asphyxia and thermal burns. The fire had destroyed 70% of Grissom's suit, 20% of White's suit, and 15% of Chaffee's suit.