A Special Stop on the Tour, and I Provide Commentary on a Web Video

(Cross-posted, with minor edits, from the “Manufacturing Makes It Real” tour blog.)

Yesterday the “Manufacturing Makes It Real” tour stopped at Scott Health & Safety in Monroe, NC, where they make Scott Air Paks — self-contained breathing apparatus used by firefighters and emergency responders all over the world.

Of all the places we’ve been, why was the Scott Health & Safety tour stop so special to me?

When I was stationed at Edwards AFB, California, at the AF Rocket Propulsion Laboratory,* I was the chief of the Disaster Response Force. Not only did I don Scott Paks and Graylite suits** in training, but I had occasion to wear them several times for real-world accident responses. (Ask me about them sometime.)

Yet as many times as I wore a Scott Pak, I never thought about where it was made or by whom. That’s the way it is with a lot of things we use — we take for granted that they exist and that they will work when we need them to, but we too often forget that real people made those things.

So I had no idea that Scott Paks were made by a company in North Carolina, nor did I have any idea of the pride they take in making products that help save lives. But I saw it firsthand yesterday afternoon, and that was nothing short of fantastic.

I know the weather is threatening to impact our next few stops on the tour, but I hope folks will come out to hear more about the great people at these companies who make terrific products that are vital to our lives.


Yesterday morning, during our stop at ArvinMeritor in Fletcher, I took local radio reporter Dan Hesse (News Radio 570, WWNC) through our display trailer so he could shoot some video for the station’s website. I answered some questions and provided some commentary, and for a few seconds you can catch my ugly mug on the video. The segment is six minutes long, and you can watch it on YouTube.


*The name changed twice while I was there; when I left, it was the AF Astronautics Laboratory. Now it’s part of the Phillips Lab, but it will always be the “Rocket Lab” to me.

**Or, “rocket propellant handler’s ensemble.”

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