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Marcia Buckingham

First Woman Space Craft Operator at the Cap

This petite blond bundle of energy is a general aviation mechanic, a student of electrical engineering and a former space shuttle mechanic and inspector. More specifically, Marcia is an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) Mechanic and holds an Inspection Authorization certification. She has private, commercial, and airline transport pilot‚s licenses. Marcia is also an instructor in multi-engine and instrument flying. In 1971, she earned her license for rotary wing helicopters.

Her aviation interest began at the tender age of 5 when she knew she wanted to become a helicopter pilot. Through her mother’s encouragement she learned there were no boundaries to what she could accomplish. In her teens, Marcia joined the Civil Air Patrol; taught auto mechanics in high school; and repaired foreign cars out of her mother‚s garage. After high school graduation Marcia traded flying time for airport work and became the first woman student at Flight Safety International, one of America’s premier flight training institutes.

Marcia was the first female Space Craft Operator (SCO) at Cape Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the featured photo, Marcia is sitting in the space shuttle Challenger (OV99) during orbiter processing in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) and shuttle hangar. The SCO‚s are sometimes fondly referred to as „grounded astronauts.‰ An SCO performs the testing and checkout of all orbiter systems prior to astronauts climbing aboard for their launch into space.

Today Marcia is using her newly earned electrical engineering technology degree working at an on-campus public broadcasting television station, teaching new students in aviation to fly and working hard as editor and president of the newly formed Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM) organization.

It was in 1997 that a group of AWAM members (right) met at the annual Women in Aviation conference and announced their incorporation.