William R. Pogue

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William R. Pogue
William Pogue.jpg
NASA astronaut
Nationality American
Born (1930-01-23)January 23, 1930
Okemah, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died March 3, 2014(2014-03-03) (aged 84)
Cocoa Beach, Florida, U.S.
Other names
William Reid Pogue
Other occupation
Fighter pilot, test pilot
OBU, B.S. 1951
OSU, M.S. 1960
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel, USAF
Time in space
84d 01h 15m
Selection 1966 NASA Group 5
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
13 hours 37 minutes
Missions Skylab 4
Mission insignia
Retirement September 1, 1975
Awards NASA Distinguished Service Medal.jpg Air Medal front.jpg

William Reid "Bill" Pogue (January 23, 1930 – March 3, 2014), (Col, USAF), was an American astronaut, U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, and test pilot who was also an accomplished teacher, public speaker and author.


Early life and education[edit]

Pogue was born on January 23, 1930, in Okemah, Oklahoma. He had one older sister, Margaret H., who died in 2012. Pogue was of Choctaw ancestry.[1] Pogue attended primary and secondary schools in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1951, and a Master of Science degree in Mathematics from Oklahoma State University in 1960. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1974.

Pogue was a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Second Class.[2]

He was the father of three children: William R. (born September 5, 1953), Layna S. (born June 9, 1955), and Thomas R. (born September 12, 1957). He enjoyed running and playing paddleball and handball, and his hobbies included cabinet making, gardening and the study of Biblical history.

Flight experience[edit]

Pogue enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1951 and received his commission in 1952. While serving with the Fifth Air Force during the Korean War, from 1953 to 1954, he completed a combat tour in fighter bombers. From 1955 to 1957, he was a member of the USAF Thunderbirds. He was a solo and a slot pilot with them.

He gained proficiency in more than 50 types and models of American and British aircraft and was qualified as a civilian flight instructor. Pogue served in the mathematics department as an assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 1960 to 1963. In September 1965, he completed a two-year tour as test pilot with the British Ministry of Aviation under the USAF/RAF Exchange Program, after graduating from the Empire Test Pilots' School in Farnborough, England.

An Air Force Colonel, Pogue came to the Manned Spacecraft Center from an assignment at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where he had been an instructor at the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School since October 1965.

He logged 7,200 hours of flight time, including 4,200 hours in jet aircraft and 2,017 hours in space flight.

NASA career[edit]

Pogue was one of nineteen astronauts selected by NASA in group 5 for the Apollo program in April 1966. He served as a member of the support crews for the Apollo 7, 11 and 14 missions. He was assigned as Command Module Pilot for the prime crew of the Apollo 19 mission. When this was canceled, he transferred, along with Apollo 19 Lunar Module Pilot Gerald Carr, to the Skylab Orbital Workshop program, which followed Apollo.

Pogue (left) and Gerald Carr disposing of trash bags during the Skylab 4 mission

Pogue was the Pilot of Skylab 4, the third and final manned visit to the Skylab Orbital Workshop, from November 16, 1973, to February 8, 1974. This was the longest manned flight (84 days, 1 hour and 15 minutes) to that date. Pogue was accompanied on the record-setting 34.5-million-mile flight by Commander Gerald P. Carr and Science Pilot, Edward G. Gibson, PhD. They successfully completed 56 experiments, 26 science demonstrations, 15 subsystem detailed objectives, and 13 student investigations during their 1,214 revolutions of the Earth.

They also acquired extensive Earth resources observations data using Skylab's Earth resources experiment package camera and sensor array and logged 338 hours of operations of the Apollo Telescope Mount which made extensive observations of the sun's solar processes. He logged 13 hours and 31 minutes in two EVAs outside the orbital workshop.

While on this mission, Pogue participated in the Skylab 4's "New Year’s Mutiny".

Pogue retired from both the United States Air Force and NASA on September 1, 1975. After his retirement, he joined High Flight (an inter-denominational evangelical foundation, founded by astronaut James Irwin) as a vice president.[3] He was self-employed as a consultant to aerospace and a producer of general interest videos on space flight.

Post-NASA career[edit]

Writing career[edit]

In 1985, Pogue authored the book How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?, answering 270 common questions he received. In 1992, he co-authored The Trikon Deception, a science fiction novel, with Ben Bova.[4]

In 2003, Pogue authored Space Trivia, published by Apogee Books. It covered the trivial questions and answers from the Project Mercury era to the Space Shuttle/International Space Station era. His autobiography, But for the Grace of God: An Autobiography of an Aviator and Astronaut, was released in January 2011 (published by Soar with Eagles).


Pogue died at his Cocoa Beach, Florida home during the night of March 3, 2014 from natural causes at the age of 84.[5][6] He is survived by his third wife Tina, three children from his first marriage and four stepchildren from his second marriage.[7]


Pogue was a member of the Air Force Association, Explorers Club, American Astronautical Society and Association of Space Explorers.

Special honors[edit]

The William R. Pogue Municipal Airport (FAA Code: OWP; ICAO Code: KOWP) in Sand Springs, Oklahoma is named in Pogue's honor.

Physical description[edit]

  • Weight: 160 lb (73 kg)
  • Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eyes: Blue[8]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

External links[edit]