Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Homer Hickam, Jr. (born February 19, 1943), is the second son of Homer Hickam, Sr., and Elsie Hickam in Coalwood, West Virginia, United States. Homer became fascinated with space travel when Sputnik flew over his West Virginia home in 1957.
Hickham idolized Wernher von Braun, who headed the United States' space program during the 1950s. He and his friends (Roy Lee Cook, Quentin Wilson, Sherman Siers, Jimmy "O'Dell" Carroll and Billy Rose) started to build small, toy rockets from spare parts, mostly without any immediate success. But Hickam and his friends overcame all obstacles with the help of their high school teacher, Miss Frieda Riley, and some of town's residents. Homer's science teacher encouraged him and his friends to participate in the West Virginia statewide science fair, leading them to win the first prize for their rocket in the science category. He went on to graduate from Big Creek High School in 1960 and from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) in 1964 with a BS degree in Industrial Engineering. Moreover, Hickman served for six years with the United States Army, retiring from duty in 1969 as a Vietnam War veteran. He is also a writer, initially writing his scuba diving adventures for a variety of different magazines. His most noticeable publications are: Torpedo Junction (1989), and (1998). In February 1999, Universal Studios released its critically acclaimed film October Sky, based on Rocket Boys. Hickam is married to Linda Terry Hickam.
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