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‘Air Born’: Huntsville astronaut Jan Davis launches book

HUNTSVILLE – She is a hometown girl who grew up surrounded by – and some say destined for – space.

Dr. Jan Davis would fly on three Space Shuttle missions and Huntsville named a street in Cummings Research Park in her honor.

Retired from NASA and currently a consultant and public speaker, Davis is holding the world-premiere of her book, “Air Born: Two Generations in Flight”, Saturday at 10 a.m. in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Discovery Theater.

She will also sign copies of the book. They will not be in bookstores until September, but Davis will sign advance copies during the event.

They are available online after the official September release by clicking here.

“Air Born” traces Davis’ father, World War II B-17 pilot Ben Smotherman’s aviation service and her own journey into space.

Smotherman was shot down over Holland in July 1943 and spent 21 months as a prisoner of war. He kept a wartime log that chronicled his flight training, combat missions, and eventual capture and interrogation.

Reading his experiences years later resonated with Jan, who piloted NASA jets and completed three spaceflights for a total of 673 hours in orbit.

In her book, Davis explores her family’s history of flight and how a father and daughter served their country over the course of 50 years.

Davis earned her biomedical engineering degree from Georgia Tech with a mechanical engineering degree from Auburn University and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

During her career, she worked for Texaco and flew for NASA before being selected as an astronaut in 1987. She continued her NASA career in senior executive service.

Davis’s presentation and book signing are free and open to the public. The Discovery Theater is behind the main ticket desk.

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