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F-104 Flight Training Launches At Florida’s Kennedy Space Center

New Civilian Astronaut Training Program For Licensed Pilots

American businessman John Rost has become the first to complete a new FAA-approved F-104 flight training program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The adventurer, pilot and CEO of Fiesta Insurance completed four training flights in the Mach 2+ Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, the same supersonic plane used to prepare Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts for space travel. His ground school and flight training was completed at NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), providing an opportunity to use the same runway the Space Shuttle returned to after coming back from its space missions.

Rost completed his multi-day training program with Starfighters Aerospace, a privately-owned company that maintains a fleet of F-104 Starfighters approved for use in flight training and scientific testing. Starfighters Aerospace is authorized by the FAA to offer civilian space flight training from NASA’s Kennedy Shuttle Landing Facility.

“Wow…nothing can compare to the four training flights I’ve completed thus far with Starfighters at Kennedy Space Center. As a pilot, I thought it would be impossible to top the supersonic MiG-29 flight I experienced in Russia with Incredible Adventures, but being able to follow in the footsteps of the Apollo Astronauts and train in the F-104 at a NASA facility is definitely the pinnacle of my flying life…I felt like Neil Armstrong,” said Rost. The adventurer hopes to be one of the first civilians to fly to space. He has already conquered the Seven Summits, becoming the 35th American and 92nd individual in the world to climb the world’s highest mountains.

“We are pleased that John not only enjoyed his flight training in the F-104, but also learned a great deal about flying high-performance fighter aircraft and the unique physical demands of a high-altitude flight,” said Infinity Space Co-Founder, Gregory Claxton. “We’re proud to be partnering with Starfighters Aerospace to further commercial space efforts and bring new business to NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility.”

F-104 Flight Training follows a comprehensive syllabus for the purpose of type-specific training in the F-104 and is authorized by a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) issued to Starfighters by the FAA in September of 2017. The amount of time it takes to complete the training will vary by pilot, but is anticipated to range from three to ten days.

Rost’s F-104 training program started with ground school and a detailed flight safety briefing, complete with ejection seat and parachute training. He then completed four of the seven training flights required to qualify for an F-104 type rating. As part of his approved training, he experienced a high-speed vertical climb designed to simulate the high sustained g-forces of a rocket launch, and a shuttle-style approach and landing over the SLF’s three-mile runway. He also performed a parabolic maneuver that produced a space-like sensation of weightlessness.

“We believe the F-104 flight training program should be available to all future civilian space flight participants, but the training is currently only approved by the FAA for licensed pilots with current flight medicals,” said Claxton. “Infinity Space and Starfighters Aerospace are working with government officials and hope to soon see regulations updated to allow all future space flight participants to train in “space support vehicles” like the F-104.”

“Updating the current regulations to allow all future space flight participants to complete this valuable training is at the top of our agenda”, said Rick Svetkoff, CEO of Starfighters Aerospace. “Together with Infinity Space, we hope to further the commercialization of space support activities at Kennedy Space Center, and in the United States, which is something the space community has been waiting for far too long.”

(Image provided with Starfighters Aerospace news release and from file)

FMI: www.starfighters.net

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