As commander Eileen Collins brought the orbiter to a stop on runway 22, the two sonic booms at 5 am woke me up out of a sound sleep. The noise seemed scary this time, I've hear this noise many times but somehow this morning it scared me.
Then later on as I was watching the news on television, and am amazed how great Eileen Collins looked. After being up for 24 hours and whatever she went through is space, her hair was perfect make up on and looked as fresh as if she had gotten a great night sleep and sat in hair and make up before she appeared. My hat off to Ms. Collins! Smart and pretty.
From that moment until today, she has lived in a fishbowl. There were 23 astronauts in the class of 1990, but only one was both a woman and a test pilot. From the day she arrived at Johnson Space Center, she was destined to become the first woman to pilot the space shuttle.
"I've got a $2 billion spacecraft on my hands. I don't think about what's happening outside."
But she yields little information about her children, Bridget, 9, and Luke, 4, or her husband, Pat Youngs, a former Air Force pilot now flying for Delta Air Lines. Her telephone numbers -- and Youngs's -- are unlisted. She does not appear to like being called Mom by adults. She guards her privacy like a celebrity, because that's what she is.
Eileen Marie Collins was born in Elmira on Nov. 19, 1956, the second of four children to James Collins, a surveyor and postal worker, and his wife, Rose Marie. Her parents split up when she was 9, and she lived in public housing, graduating from Elmira Free Academy in 1974.