Paul Dye: What It Was Like To Bring The Shuttle Home From Orbit


Former NASA Senior Flight Director Paul Dye describes the Space Shuttle as the most amazing winged aircraft ever built. Who could argue the point? In this in-depth video review, Dye explains what it was like to bring the Shuttle home from orbit after a multi-day mission. Don’t forget, the Shuttle was the largest glider ever built and one capable of flying at Mach 25. Paul Dye is also Editor at Large for our sister publication, KITPLANES, and has built a number of aircraft.

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  1. Fascinating conversation Paul. Thank you for airing it. Stick and rudder is still king even in the shuttle. Just the notion of that piece of information gives me goose bumps. Paul Dye caught my attention talking about doing a 360 over Rosamond. Flying my 120 from central Kansas to Reedley CA Rosamond was my final fuel stop. Little did I know at the time Rosamond figured into space shuttle contingencies.

  2. PS: I also enjoyed watching the real glider “throttle action” back at the vertically split rudder airbrake. It takes good photography to capture that detail.

  3. Amazing. I had the good luck to be visiting the full scale Shuttle Training Device that is on display at the Boeing Museum of Flight on the same day that an actual shuttle pilot was there looking around. He was commenting on the people in some of the training pictures on the wall, “That’s Joe, and that’s Shiela, and … hey, that’s me.” So I took a picture of him in front of his picture. Great guy. Very humble. (In honor of that, I won’t post his name.). If he is watching this video, I’ll bet he is loving it.

  4. Great video and interview. Paul Dye is such a laid-back person it is hard to imagine him flying the ultimate hot rod aircraft. I guess we all imagine guys that flew them having the macho “right stuff” persona, but in reality, most were more like Paul. But that quiet exterior certainly belies the incredible skill, talent and confidence to do the job. You are also right about the cameras. As Paul describes, the video starts with the shuttle at 50-80,000 feet, moving at over Mach 1, and you can see incredible detail of the machine.

  5. Fabulous interview, Paul(s)! Thank you both for the great explanations of how things worked recovering the shuttle.

  6. Just thinking back on my life as an aviator and about which elements were the closest to being unique. 3 L8A NORAD CtoC X/C, B17 yoke hours, jets = none. Then I realized I have watched the shuttle land at all three locations. Yes, THREE. Made lots of trips to Edwards for that while living west coast and then KSC for launches and landings after retiring to Florida but it was sticking it out through days of NM sandstorms that made me one of the few of thousands initially on site at the Northrup[sic] Strip to actually see that black brick [Columbia] fall out of a clear sky onto the gypsum.

  7. Great interview but I couldn’t help noticing that while Paul B. got a few hits on his brewski (mmm, beer), Paul D. never even got one hit. Just saying…