Topic: William McCool

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William Cameron "Willie" McCool (September 23, 1961 – February 1, 2003) was a United States Navy Commander, NASA astronaut and the Space Shuttle pilot of Columbia mission STS-107. He was killed when the craft disintegrated during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

McCool was born 23 September 1961 in San Diego, California, and died on 1 February 2003 over the southern United States when Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to scheduled landing. He is survived by his wife and children. He enjoyed running, mountain biking, back country hiking/camping, swimming, playing guitar, and chess. His favorite song was "Imagine" by John Lennon which was played during the space mission. His favorite band was Radiohead, and the song "Fake Plastic Trees" was played by mission control as a wake-up call. McCool is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.

McCool completed flight training in August 1986 and was assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 129 at Whidbey Island, Washington, for initial EA-6B Prowler training. His first operational tour was with Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 133, where he made two deployments aboard USS Coral Sea (CV-43) to the Mediterranean Sea, and received designation as a wing qualified landing signal officer (LSO). In November 1989, he was selected for the Naval Postgraduate School/Test Pilot School (TPS) Cooperative Education Program. After graduating from TPS in June 1992, he worked as TA-4J and EA-6B test pilot in Flight Systems Department of Strike Aircraft Test Directorate at Patuxent River, Maryland. He was responsible for the management and conduct of a wide variety of projects, ranging from airframe fatigue life studies to numerous avionics upgrades. His primary efforts, however, were dedicated to flight test of the Advanced Capability (ADVCAP) EA-6B. Following his Patuxent River tour, McCool returned to Whidbey Island, and was assigned to Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 132 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65). He served as Administrative and Operations Officer with the squadron through their work-up cycle, receiving notice of NASA selection while embarked on Enterprise for her final pre-deployment at-sea period.

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