Cover image for Leap of faith : an astronaut's journey into the unknown
Title:
Leap of faith : an astronaut's journey into the unknown
Author:
Cooper, Gordon, 1927-2004.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
279 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780060194161
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library TL789.85.C66 A3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Gordon Cooper was one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, a select group of the nation's top military test pilots who braved the frontiers of space in the days when strapping yourself to a rocket meant you would be either a hundred miles up or six feet under. Today he is undeniably a part of our nation's history as one of the four surviving Mercury Seven space pioneers. In Leap of Faith, Cooper not only reveals compellingly what went on behind the scenes of the early U.S. space program, but he also takes dead aim at the next millennium of space travel with his strong views on the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence--and even the distinct possibility that we have already had contact.

During his distinguished military flying career, Cooper was one of the best of the best at Edwards Air Force Base, where the setting of world records for speed, endurance, and altitude was an everyday occurrence. Even before joining this nation's newly formed manned space program, he understood the dangerous nature of new technologies: hanging it over the edge and pushing the envelope, then hauling it back in and doing it again tomorrow.

"Gordo" Cooper learned to fly with his father at age eight in his hometown of Shawnee, Oklahoma, and soloed by the time he was twelve. As an impressionable boy, he met overnight visitors to the Cooper household, including famous aviators like Amelia Earhart and Wiley Post, which only heightened his desire to take to the skies.

Ride with Cooper through his adventurous life in the cockpits of planes and spacecraft alike--he was the last American to go into space alone, exactly thirty-five years ago. He flew in Mercury and Gemini, and served as head of flight crew operations for both Apollo and Skylab, America's first orbiting space station. He was also backup command pilot for Apollo X and directed design input changes for the space shuttle program. He was buddies with Gus Grissom, who died in the tragic Apollo I fire at Cape Canaveral, and was close to Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist who was responsible for the United States beating Russia into space, and then to the Moon. Through it all, Cooper, a hero who shuns the label, speaks candidly of his defeats as well as his accomplishments. His life is a tapestry of space travel in the twentieth century.

And beyond. From a source as credible as Gordo Cooper come these claims: He innocently took revealing pictures of the mysterious Area 51 during his Gemini mission and ended up in the White House speaking about it to the president of the United States; he and other military pilots have chased unidentified aircraft in their Jets; and footage of UFOs taken by his film crew was confiscated by the government, all part of the U.S. military's long-time UFO cover-up.

Buckle yourself in and prepare for a wild ride; Leap of Faith takes you places you have never been before---and with Cooper's firm hand at the controls.


Author Notes

Bruce Henderson is a journalist and author, born in 1946. His career has included newspaper reporter, magazine editor, private investigator, and field producer for television. He taught reporting and writing courses at Stanford University and USC School of Journalism.

He is the author (or co-author) of over twenty nonfiction books. His recent work includes And the Sea Will Tell (co-authored by Vincent Bugliosi and was adapted for a CBS miniseries), Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War, Trace Evidence: The Hunt for the I-5 Serial Killer, Rescue at Los Banos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II, and Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Although he is not, this autobiography of Cooper (youngest of the original seven Mercury astronauts) is slightly schizoid. Half of it recalls Cooper's distinguished career as an astronaut, which included the 22-orbit flight of Mercury Faith 7 and the record-breaking, trouble-plagued flight of Gemini 5 with the late Pete Conrad. Born and raised around aviation, Cooper left both the astronaut corps and the air force after the small-group politics of mission assignments led to his being denied an Apollo mission. He has devoted his life since, and devotes the rest of the book, to exploring the question of unidentified flying objects, in whose extraterrestrial origins he firmly believes, even if he isn't a UFO cultist. He draws on his background as an astronaut to bolster his persuasively argued position that, whatever UFO's may actually be, a policy of cover-up and obfuscation isn't going to help turn them into IFO's--identified flying objects. Full of tasty nuggets for space and ufology buffs and of portraits, not all of them kind, of his Mercury fellows, as well as his self-portrayal as an almost stereotypical fighter-jockey, Cooper's book attests that, when the time came, he boldly went where few had gone before, helping blaze the trail for the many who have followed. --Roland Green


Publisher's Weekly Review

In this engaging memoir, Mercury 7 astronaut Cooper adds his compelling voice to the chorus of critics charging a U.S. governmental coverup of the UFO phenomenon. Written in the first person with Henderson (coauthor of And the Sea Will Tell), this book will challenge UFO skeptics and believers alike. On the one hand, Cooper states that, despite many reports to the contrary, neither he nor other astronauts saw UFOs in outer space. On the other hand, he reports that in 1951, as a young air force pilot based in Germany, he chased saucer-shaped UFOs, and that groups of UFOs passed over the base daily at speeds far superior to any manmade craft. In 1957, at Edwards Air Force Base in the California desert, Cooper was given photographs of a "classic saucer" that had reportedly landed at the top-secret military installation. He sent the photos to a Pentagon general, but never heard about the matter again. In the late 1970s, Cooper (who's now an aeronautical designer) unsuccessfully tried to launch a research company devoted to free worldwide energy transmission using Nikola Tesla's discoveries, as well as to advanced medical devices and other projects. His partner in this venture, Valerie Ransone, claims to receive scientifically useful telepathic transmissions from extraterrestrial sources. The story gets a lot weirder, as Cooper agrees to join Ransone in the Arizona desert for a telepathically arranged rendezvous with a UFO. Joining them at this alleged meeting (which was canceled) was Atlas missile aerospace engineer Dan Fry, who claims to have flown over Texas on board a UFO in 1950. On a more mundane level, Cooper's reminiscence offers an exciting insider's look at Projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, full of startling details about NASA's internal politics, disasters, glitches and close calls. 16 pages of color photos. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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