At age 12, Ed got his first airplane ride â in a WWII T-6 trainer â piloted by his Dad. Later that year, Edâs Dad taught him to fly in a high-wing Taylorcraft tail-dragger. The White family moved to Dayton, Ohio, when Edâs Dad was transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. They lived in family quarters at Patterson Field, and Ed and his sister Jeanne attended Oakwood schools. Edâs boundless enthusiasm, sense of adventure, competitive spirit, and ornery practical jokes are still the stuff of legend in the halls of Oakwood Junior High School.
- April 1954, he was assigned to the 22nd Fighter Day Squadron at Bitburg Air Base, Germany flying the F-86 and F-100 fighter aircraft.
- Whiteâs first mission in space was as a pilot for the Gemini 4 flight, a four-day mission from June 3-7, 1965. It was during this flight that White became the first American to make a spacewalk, spending 21 minutes outside his spacecraft.
Edward Higgins White II was born in San Antonio, Texas on Nov. 14, 1930. Coming from a family of pilots, White became fascinated with aviation. Whiteâs father, Edward H. White, Sr. was a major general in the Air Force and helped nurture his sonâs interest.
Whiteâs family moved to Washington, D.C. Upon his high school graduation in 1948, White received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy. In the spring of 1952, he graduated with a bachelorâs degree and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. During his time at West Point, White met Patricia Finegan, who would become his wife in 1953.
After 13 rigorous months of flight instruction in Florida and Texas, White received his pilot wings. Beginning in April 1954, he was assigned to the 22nd Fighter Day Squadron at Bitburg Air Base, Germany. White spent three and a half years in Germany flying the F-86 and F-100 fighter aircraft.
White returned to the United States in 1958 and entered the University of Michigan under the Air Force Institute of Technology Program. A year later, he graduated with a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
In July 1959, White attended the Air Force Test Pilot Program at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. for advanced aviation training. After this intense program, the young pilot was then transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio as a weightlessness and extended flight training captain. The aviation experience White gained proved to lay the foundation for the skill sets he would later use as an astronaut.