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Event to honor Kansas astronaut Joe Engle on 83rd birthday

Astronauts Joe Engle, left, Vance Brand, Henry Hartsfield Jr., and Gordon Fullerton at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Kansas Aviation Museum is celebrating Engle’s 83rd birthday Wednesday. (March 3, 1986)
Astronauts Joe Engle, left, Vance Brand, Henry Hartsfield Jr., and Gordon Fullerton at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Kansas Aviation Museum is celebrating Engle’s 83rd birthday Wednesday. (March 3, 1986) Associated Press

An impromptu celebration to observe the 83rd birthday of Joe Engle, retired NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force pilot, is Wednesday at the Kansas Aviation Museum.

Engle, who grew up in Chapman and is a University of Kansas graduate, flew three shuttle flights. In 1977, he commanded the Enterprise; he commanded the Columbia in 1981 and, in 1985, he commanded the Discovery.

The celebration starts at 1:30 p.m. and includes a proclamation from Mayor Jeff Longwell.

Engle, who now lives in Houston, is not expected to attend the event.

“I like to remember the Kansans who have done amazing things,” said James Mendenhall, who organized the event. “I was reading about Joe and noticed his birthday was coming up on Wednesday. This is one of the top astronauts in the nation. I want to say ‘Thank you for all you have done.’ ”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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