SCHOCK, Grover J. D. (1926 - 1992)
Was a captain of the United States Air Force that studied the behaviour of the human body in sub and zero gravity conditions and was appointed as first pilot for the Manhigh program last mission.
Assigned to the Holloman Air Force Base zero-gravity program during the early fifties, Schock pioneered simulating subgravity conditions underwater. He used the indoor swimming pool at Alamogordo's School for the Visually Handicapped. Using a special made chair lowered into the deep end of the pool, and by blindfolding subjects in this subgravity environment he was able to make an interesting discover: that slowly manipulating their position with respect to the "horizon" human beings quickly lose their spatial orientation as the body's mechano-receptors lose their coordination. Schock published his findings in a landmark paper titled "Some Observations of Orientation and Illusions When Exposed to Sub and Zero Gravity" which earned him the nation's first doctorate in space physiology.
He also participated with the Space Biology Branch of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman of a program of parabolic flights. Under supervision of Major David G. Simons, a physician who acted as test subject on many occasions (whom had also a key role in several other balloon related projects) the Holloman studies for two years utilized T-33 and F-89 jet aircraft and later the F-94C, which offered a longer parabola than other aircraft and thus a longer period of weightlessness. In the summer of 1958 the Air Force canceled all zero-g research at Holloman, and the group of scientists broke up. Nevertheless, the association of Simons and Schock would lead in 1958 to the selection of the later as primary pilot for the third and last flight of the MANHIGH balloon program.
After going through a grueling series of tests, that included medical examinations, simulations of the flight in test chamber and 24 hs claustrophobia tests, all that remained to clear Schock as first pilot for Manhigh III was his CAA Balloonist's License. This would be acomplished in August 15, when he and Otto Winzen (also candidate for the flight) would make an all day balloon flight, making several landings and flying at different altitudes. Near completing the test over Ashland, Wisconsin, in an attempt to land before winds swept the balloon out over Lake Superior, the envelope was manually cut loose prematurely and the gondola fell about 100 feet to the ground. Both men were gravely injured. Winzen sustained fractures of the collarbone, two ribs, two vertebrae, right wrist, and lower arm. He also had a dislocated bone in his right foot. Schock had numerous broken bones, severe internal injuries, and he cut his jaw badly.
Although he survived his injuries, Schock would never pilot Manhigh.