CNHI News Service

News

January 9, 2013

Author says 'Right Stuff' is wrong about Gus Grissom'

ANDERSON, Ind. — Indiana author and historian Ray E. Boomhower believes Virgil “Gus” Grissom, one of the original American astronauts, has been lost in time and unfairly characterized over the years in Tom Wolfe’s book “The Right Stuff” and in the 1983 movie adaptation.

So Boomhower’s set out to correct the perception of Grissom as the astronaut who “screwed the pooch,” according to Wolfe, for blowing too soon the hatch off his suborbital Mercury spacecraft, Liberty Bell 7, causing water to flood and sink it.

Boomhower said that’s the purpose of his latest book, “Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut.”

“Unfortunately, Gus, although remembered fondly by people in Mitchell (Indiana, his hometown) and throughout the rest of the state, has the unfortunate legacy of being remembered by many as responsible for allowing his Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after the conclusion of his July 21, 1961, mission,” said Boomhower.

“Both Tom Wolfe’s book ‘The Right Stuff,’ and the movie of the same name, treat Grissom as the goat and infer that he panicked and purposely blew the hatch. That depiction is inaccurate — Grissom did not panic. The best indication of Grissom not being to blame is the fact that NASA cleared him of any wrongdoing and went ahead and selected him to command the first missions on both the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft.”

Grissom, the second American to fly in space, was 40 years old when he died, along with astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee, in a fire aboard Apollo 1 during a pre-launch test 46 years ago. Grissom was the command pilot of the spacecraft, scheduled to be the first manned mission of the lunar landing program.

Boomhower’s book has been published as part of the Indiana Historical Society Press’ Indiana Biography Series. The Anderson Herald Bulletin posed a few questions to the author:

Text Only
News
  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's brother claims he's owed $1.7 million that he loaned to keep a family carpet out of bankruptcy in the 1980s.

    July 25, 2014

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

Sports

Features

Opinion