NASA maintains a fleet of T-38 aircraft for training and as a chase plane for spacecraft. When used for that latter role, were the T-38s ever flown by non-astronauts?


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Yes, chase pilot Charles Justiz was a non-astronaut, though his biography certainly suggests he could have qualified; he applied for the astronaut class of 1985. According to this CollectSpace thread he flew chase for STS-5 and STS-41D among other missions. The thread names several other chase pilots; I didn't run down all of them but at least one other, Richard Laidley, appears to have been another non-astronaut.

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    $\begingroup$ JSC's Aircraft Operations Division was a starting point in NASA for quite a few pilots who later became astronauts - Kevin Kregel, Greg C. Johnson just off the top of my head. Some systems engineers too - Nicole Stott and Steve Nagel. Flying and/or working on the Shuttle Training Aircraft was a definite plus on your application, it seems. $\endgroup$ Jul 2, 2019 at 14:33

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