By Mary Kemper
Editor’s note: It is with much sadness and respect that Veteran Voice marks the passing of a matchless pioneer and true gentleman. We have had the honor of covering Lt. Col. Mann on several occasions, most recently his appearance at the 2014 Tico Warbird Museum Airshow in Titusville. Please see Mary Kemper’s column at right.
Retired U.S. Army Air Corps (later Air Force) fighter pilot Lt. Col. Hiram E. Mann, of Titusville, died May 17, which was, appropriately, Armed Forces Day. He would have turned 93 on May 23.
Mann was one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots to serve in the U.S. armed forces in World War II. He continued on active duty until 1972, when he retired.
He had always wanted to fly since he was a young boy, but it took dogged persistence and three tries to enter the Army Air Corps, which he finally did in 1942.
Edgar Cortright probably stopped by Earth’s orbit, the moon and Mars before heading onto heaven. He had a few satellites and robotic probes to look at one last time before moving onto eternity.
Cortright died on Sunday, May 4, following a stroke. He was 90. The World War II Navy pilot was in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1958. The nation quickly geared up for spaceflight after that, and he was put on the task force that formed NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Cortright held numerous jobs in NASA.