"When the next generation of commercial rockets for tourists is ready to test fly," Gibson said, "there'll be a line of pilots hoping for a seat." He flashed a confident smile, then added, "I'd kind of like to be at the front of it." He has already been part of one effort, signing on in 2006 as chief pilot at Benson Space Company, which did not survive the death of its founder, Jim Benson, last year.
Beyond the parking lot, we could see a 737 approach nearby Washington Dulles International Airport. "Someday that's what leaving for orbit will be like," said Gibson. "A scheduled flight in a spaceship with wings." With Hoot Gibson in the cockpit?
Robin White is the author of eight novels and two nonfiction books. A new book, on business in a post-petroleum world, is due out this fall.