Unofficial Bio of Hugh Downs

by Wally Downs

Since I have known Hugh longer than any other living person, I think it appropriate that I should add some things that are not covered his official bio.

Hugh and I have always had an interest in all things scientific. He has tended more to astronomy and cosmology, while my more mundane interests have been in the areas of geology, mineralogy and paleontology.

Hughís other interests include flying nearly anything that can be flown, including balloons, gliders and multi-engine aircraft. He has been a licensed pilot for sixty years. Although he has never been launched in a spacecraft, he went through NASAís astronaut training program with John Glenn prior to Glennís second trip into space.

A term paper written for an astronomy course Hugh attended at Columbia University is titled Three Scale Models of the Universe. It gives the best presentation for visualizing the extent of the universe of the many publications on the subject that I have read.

We have both been to the South Pole, but at different times.† Hugh documented his trip with a camera crew for ABC-TVís 20/20 program, and I installed some tracking equipment for NASA two years later.† In a moment of brotherly one-upmanship, I climbed to the top of the large geodesic dome at the pole and had my picture taken to prove that I had been farther south than he had.† I also performed the first (and possibly only) live classical music concert given at the Pole.† Flutists have the advantage of being able to carry their instruments with them on such trips, but performing without accompaniment leaves performers exposed and has much in common with streaking.

It has been a real privilege to have Hugh as an older brother.† I am sure that there are many things that I would not have attempted if he had not broken ground ahead of me.† While our professions have been quite different, our interest in science has always been very similar, but we have never been in competition with each other. It has been an interesting eighty years.

For a more detail see the longer biography of Hugh Downs.