Sun, Oct 24, 2004
"After 35 years, you finally put an ant in space."
That was the comment made by one of cartoonist Wes Oleszewski's
childhood pals after the record-breaking X-2 flight of
SpaceShipOne. It was only then that Wes was able to break the news
to a few close friends that riding aboard SpaceShipOne on the
October 4th flight, that claimed the X Prize, had been a Klyde
The Klyde figure is the image of the cartoon character that
appears here on Aero-News twice a week and taken from the editorial
cartoon strip that Wes has been drawing since 1978. Ants, however,
have been in Wes' creative work since his childhood experiments
with model rockets. As far back as 1969 the poor creatures were
plucked from Wes' neighborhood sidewalks and blasted into the sky
by some form of rocket or flying vehicle that he had altered and
redesigned to make it fly cooler. The results were often
spectacular crashes that sometimes frightened and annoyed the
neighboring adults, but thrilled the local kids. Wes would draw
cartoons spoofing his failures. Those cartoons later evolved into
the Klyde Morris cartoon strip, and its ant character by the same
When discussion about coverage of the X Prize attempt by
SpaceShipOne began between Aero-News and Wes, the subject of
Rutan's teddy bear passenger came up (the one that accompanied Burt
when he flew onboard Zero G Corporation's 727). Wes quipped that it
should be a Klyde figure. Aero-News Editor-In-Chief, Jim Campbell,
thought briefly and then simply said "Bring one." Shortly before
the X-2 flight of SpaceShipOne, the X Prize folks notified Campbell
that Aero-News could place something aboard the flight.
Campbell told Wes to "Go Get Klyde,"
and within seconds the Klyde Morris replica was in the pipeline to
travel into space. It was not until the morning of the flight that
the Aero-News staff was officially informed that Klyde Morris was
actually aboard SpaceShipOne.
Following the flight, Wes told only a few friends that Klyde had
gone into space. The figure had to be unloaded, certified and
recorded by X Prize before the ride was official. Following that
protracted process, the figure was returned to Jim Campbell, who in
turn gave it to AOPA President Phil Boyer. On October 22nd, Mr.
Boyer presented (shown above) the Klyde figure to Wes at the AOPA
Expo in Long Beach during the press conference that launched Wes'
new Klyde Morris book (story coming up shortly).
Plans are in the offing that will allow the the figure to tour,
making educational visits and promoting interest in aviation and
spaceflight. The figure will reside on loan to the Embry-Riddle
Aeronautical University for a time, and will eventually be donated
to the National Air and Space Museum. Replicas of the Klyde figure
can be purchased at klydemorris.com or at klydemart.com. Supplies are
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