'We lost a very good man today': Chris Hadfield on the death of John Glenn
'He was absolutely one of the inspiring figures that dictated the life that I chose to follow'
Col. Chris Hadfield — Canada's most recognizable former astronaut — says the death of his idol and colleague John Glenn is tragic.
"He was absolutely one of the inspiring figures that dictated the life that I chose to follow," Hadfield told CBC Calgary News at 6 on Thursday, after news of Glenn's passing surfaced earlier in the day.
"He was one of my heroes as a kid, but I was lucky enough to get to know one of my heroes later in life. He came back and flew in the shuttle in the late 90s when he was 77. I got to know John and his wife Annie. They have been married 73 years. John was one of the great Americans and I don't say that lightly. A life of service, a really respectable man, just a class act, supremely competent and a humble guy to talk to," he explained.
"We lost a very good man today."
Hadfield has just released his third book. It's a children's book looking at the distinction between fear and actual danger, The Darkest Dark.
"How do you deal with fear? Everybody is afraid, how do you find your way through your own fear to do the things that you are dreaming about," Hadfield told The Homestretch earlier in the day.
"It is a question everybody faces everyday but especially so for young people."
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He says darkness is a theme that he thought would connect with his target audience.
"Everybody is afraid of the dark, that is normal, but how do you find a way to be brave and how do you recognize that even though you are afraid of the dark, that is where so much cool stuff is," he explained.
"That is where you see fireworks and you see a movie and you see the stars and you see the northern lights and it is where you dream."
Hadfield, an astronaut of 21 years, was the first Canadian to walk in space. He flew two space shuttle missions and served as International Space Station commander, in addition to being an air force pilot, engineer, author and educator.
He said early astronauts like Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and John Glenn taught him anything was possible.
"They turned themselves into astronauts, they weren't born that way," Hadfield said.
"If they can do that, then I wonder what I can do? It was like an opening door. This type of thing exists and it is really up to you."
He says he hopes his book will draw a line between being afraid and actual dangers.
"You don't have to be afraid. Danger is something you can prepare for," he said.
"It's like riding a bike. It is dangerous to ride a bike at first because you don't know what you are doing and you are going to fall off and break a tooth or crack your head or skin your knee, but once you have learned how, now you are a bike rider. Now you can go fast and get the wind in your hair and the whole world is a whole different oyster for you. You can treat everything like riding a bike. That occurred to me at that time too, and it has really directed my whole life."
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With files from CBC Calgary News at 6 and The Homestretch