Duane “Digger” Carey visit – report and photos

As reported on this site in recent weeks we were recently pleased to welcome NASA astronaut Duane “Digger” Carey to the school. Mr David Shand, Chemistry teacher, who helped to organise Duane’s visit, told us a little more about the visit and also provided us with some photos of his time in Wick.

NASA astronaut and shuttle pilot Duane G. Carey spoke to 150 pupils at Wick High school during September when he described the 11-day mission on space shuttle Columbia as well as the challenges in life that he had to overcome to become a NASA space shuttle pilot and astronaut. The STS-109 mission was to rejuvenate the Hubble Space Telescope in a series of five space walks and with the help of a giant robotic arm. Duane’s presentation which included superb video footage of the astronauts, both within the space shuttle and during space walks, much which was taken by Duane. Duane described how he worked his way through life from a challenging family background to become both an F-15 and F-16 fighter pilot in a combat role and then a US Air Force test pilot prior to joining NASA.

Duane emphasized the value of education and young people sticking in with subjects which they find challenging and they will need to get the jobs of their dreams. Duane mentioned to pupils that even if they do not know which career they would like to follow, to stick in there to avoid the late start he had in life to get the qualifications he required to be a jet pilot.

Pupils were given opportunities to ask Duane a wide variety of questions following each presentation and were delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Duane informally after his presentations and off course Duane ended up in lots of pupil ‘selfies’!

As well as presenting to other school pupils in other Caithness schools Duane along with his wife Cheryl  dropped into a Kayak training session to join the Wick High school pupils who signed up to a Youth Fusion event run by High Life Highland’s Wick Youth Development Team in partnership with Caithness Kayak Club.  After a training session which involved Duane and Cheryl, pupils had a most enjoyable time playing water polo in which eagle-eyed Duane scored two goals from a great distance!