Feeds

Pampernaut love-rat space shuttle pilot prangs plane

Passengers unhurt in Alaskan Cessna crash

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Former space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, famous for being the man at the centre of the romantic rivalry between troubled astronaut Lisa Nowak and air force officer Colleen Shipman - which led to the astonishing nappies, mace and car-park fracas sensation of 2007 - has suffered a mishap at the controls of a small floatplane in Alaska, according to reports.

The AP, quoting federal aviation officials, reports that Oefelein was piloting a six-seat Cessna 206 floatplane on 15 September when it came down in some alder bushes near Judd Lake, some 50 miles from Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. None of the three people aboard the Regal Air craft were hurt, but the plane was damaged and an official investigation is underway.

Oefelein has an impressive record as a pilot, as a graduate of the US Navy's famous "Top Gun" fighter school and a qualified test pilot before being selected to fly the space shuttle. He went into space as pilot of the shuttle Discovery in 2006.

However the dashing stick-jockey had a complicated personal life, reportedly enjoying the affections of fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak - while she was still married to a brother navy flyer - and then US air force captain Colleen Shipman simultaneously, perhaps concurrently with those of his then wife.

Matters came to a head in 2007 when mother-of-three Nowak made a non-stop transcontinental road odyssey to intercept Shipman in a Florida airport car park. There she squirted pepper spray at the younger woman through the window of her car before Shipman made good her escape and police intervened.

The cops later stated that Nowak had made her trip wearing space nappies in order to avoid the need for restroom breaks, had mounted her attack disguised in a wig, sunglasses and a trench coat, and had been packing a knife and a hammer in addition to her pepper spray.

Nowak's representatives vigorously denied that she had worn nappies, at one point contacting the Register to point out that none had been seized as evidence in the case. The astronaut's lawyer has stated that nappies seen by police in the astronaut's car had actually been normal child-size ones, not astronaut ones, and that they had been worn by Nowak's children as the family fled Hurricane Rita over a year before the car park incident. At that point her youngest would have been four years old, according to a speech Nowak gave to a Catholic girls' school in 2006.

The ensuing legal proceedings dragged on for some time, with Nowak eventually agreeing to a plea bargain which saw her sentenced to two days' jail - already previously served - a year of supervised probation, community service and anger management classes. She and Oefelein were both drummed out of the astronaut corps, and Oefelein subsequently left the US Navy to settle in Alaska with Shipman, now his wife.

The circumstances of last month's Cessna crash are as yet unclear, though the AP reports that federal officials were impressed at Oefelein's skill in setting the plane down with passengers unhurt. However it is also reported that the aircraft had stalled prior to the crash, and that no problem with its engine have been found by investigators. Nonetheless no blame is being attached to Oefelein's handling of the plane as yet.

"We're not assuming any operational errors," Jim La Belle of the National Transportation Safety Board told the AP. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?