Rockford man remembers role in Challenger recovery - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford man remembers role in Challenger recovery

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Rockford's Dave Kennedy talks about his role in the Space Shuttle Challenger recovery effort Rockford's Dave Kennedy talks about his role in the Space Shuttle Challenger recovery effort
ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Anyone old enough to remember this day 27 years ago will never be able to forgot the sights and sounds broadcast live all over the world.

January 28th, 1986, 7 astronauts died when Space Shuttle Challenger exploded a little more than a minute after blastoff.  A seal in one of the booster engines failed because of cold weather. Debris from the blast rained down and traveled up and down the east coast.

A Rockford man, who was a Marine pilot at the time, was called in for the search and rescue effort. Dave Kennedy's helicopter carried part of the nose cone from one of the solid rocket boosters, from a ship, back to Cape Canaveral.  After that he and his crew searched the Atlantic from the air.

"You were out there hoping that you'd find somebody waving at you in the water.  You really knew you weren't gonna, but you were hoping you would at least find something.   And so it was extremely sobering for everybody," Kennedy says.

He spent 2 days flying over the ocean looking for pieces of the shuttle.

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