Willaim Mellberg

Today (January 31st) marks the 54th Anniversary of Explorer I, the first American artificial Earth satellite. Four months earlier, Sputnik-1 caught my attention as a six-year old. My interest in space exploration began at the dawn of the Space Age. As I grew older, that interest increased with each new space achievement – including the flights of Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard and John Glenn. I followed the Soviet space program, as well as our own. In 1962, my Father (now 91) became responsible for the design and development of the cameras aboard the Surveyor lunar landers – the first American spacecraft to touch down on the Moon. In 1965, I represented my school at a reception for Gemini 4 astronauts Jim McDivitt and Ed White during their post-flight visit to Chicago. In 1972, my Father and I were invited to witness the launch of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon. That night I literally bumped into Wernher von Braun and sat with astronaut Tom Stafford. Twenty-five years later, I wrote a book called “Moon Missions” about the early exploration of the Moon. Apollo 17 scientist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt reviewed my manuscript and wrote the foreword to that book. I am now the co-editor of Dr. Schmitt’s blog … AmericasUncommonSense.com. I entered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1970, majoring in Aerospace Engineering. I transferred to the College of Commerce for the safety of the flying public! Following my graduation as a marketing major, I joined the legendary Dutch aerospace manufacturer, Fokker Aircraft, as a marketing and public relations representative in their North American Division (based in Washington, DC). While with Fokker, I traveled all across the United States, Canada and Mexico – talking with senior airline executives and trade press editors. I also worked with our sales engineers, helping to analyze the airline market and creating performance studies for potential customers. I left Fokker to join Ozark Airlines where I learned about the operational side of the airline business. I also worked for AAR Corp. which supplied aircraft parts to the commercial aviation industry – giving me valuable insights into aircraft support and maintenance. I later worked as a consultant to senior management at Chicago-based Midway Airlines. Twenty-five years ago, I began working as a free-lance writer for several aerospace magazines. I’ve had more than 200 feature articles published in magazines such as Airliners, Airways, Air Enthusiast, Air International, Air World and Sky & Telescope – to name just a few. I’ve written three popular books: Moon Missions, Famous Airliners and Famous Airliners 2. Over the years, I’ve met and befriended leaders and legends from the aerospace industry. During the past three decades, I’ve enjoyed a dual career. Wearing a very different hat as a political humorist and impressionist, I’ve performed in all 50 states. My audiences have ranged from chamber of commerce dinners to staff parties at the White House. I have also addressed a variety of aerospace industry groups. I wrote and starred in two nationally-televised PBS specials called “An Evening with the Presidents.” I’ve also enjoyed writing and starring in a weekly radio program for the past 22 years.

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