Gordon Cooper was one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, a select group of the nation’s top military test pilots who braved the frontiers of space in the days when strapping yourself to a rocket meant you would be either a hundred miles up or six feet under. In Leap of Faith, Cooper not only reveals compellingly what went on behind the scenes of the early U.S. space program, but he also takes dead aim at the next millennium of space travel with his strong views on the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence — and even the distinct possibility that we have already been contacted.
During his distinguished military flying career, Cooper was one of the best of the best at Edwards Air Force Base, where the setting of world records for speed, endurance, and altitude was an everyday occurrence. Even before joining this nation’s newly formed manned space program, he understood the dangerous nature of new technologies: hanging it over the edge and pushing the envelope, then hauling it back in and doing it again tomorrow.
“Gordo” Cooper learned to fly with his father at age eight in his hometown of Shawnee, Oklahoma, and soloed by the time he was twelve. As an impressionable boy, he met overnight visitors to the Cooper household, including famous aviators like Amelia Earhart and Wiley Post, which only heightened his desire to take to the skies.
Ride with Cooper through his adventurous life in the cockpits of planes and spacecraft alike — he was the last American to go into space alone. He flew in Mercury and Gemini, and served as head of flight crew operations for both Apollo and Skylab, American’s first orbiting space station. He was also backup command pilot for Apollo 10 and directed design input changes for the space shuttle program. He was buddies with Gus Grissom, who died in the tragic Apollo I fire at Cape Canaveral, and was close to Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist who was responsible for the United States beating Russia in the space race, and then to the Moon. Through it all, Cooper, a hero who shuns the label, speaks candidly of his defeats as well as his accomplishments. His life is a tapestry of space travel in the twentieth century.
And beyond. From a source as credible as Gordo Cooper come these claims: He innocently took revealing pictures of the mysterious Area 51 during his Gemini mission and ended up in the White House speaking about it to the president of the United States; he and other military pilots have chased unidentified aircraft in their jets; and the footage of UFOs taken by his film crew was confiscated by the government, all part of the U.S. military’s long-time UFO cover-up.