An American hero, John Glenn was the first American to orbit, or circle, the Earth. He took his first ride in a plane at age 8. From then on, he was fascinated by flying.
John Glenn was born in Cambridge, OH and spent his childhood in New Concord, OH. He graduated from high school and was attending Muskingum University when World War II began. He got his pilot’s license just before his 21st birthday and joined the armed services to support his country. He served in World War II, flying in 59 bombing missions. He also served in the Korean War, flying in 90 missions and earning medals for bravery. John then trained as a test pilot and set a cross-country speed record in his plane called the Silver Bullet. He flew from California to New York at a record speed of 725.55 mph!
In addition to being a pilot, he became an astronaut. An astronaut is a person who travels beyond the earth’s atmosphere. John Glenn was included in the National Aeronautics and Space Association’s (NASA) first group of astronauts called the Mercury Seven. These 7 men were carefully selected to be part of America’s first manned space program. John flew the spaceship Friendship 7 around the earth three times during his historic trip on February 20, 1962.
In 1998 John Glenn became the oldest astronaut to ever travel in space. At age 77 he spent nine days in the space shuttle Discovery and participated in experiments that gave doctors useful information on aging and space travel.
John Glenn also served his country as the U.S. Senator from Ohio for 24 years from 1974-1998. He worked on important issues including space exploration and nuclear power.