Past Presidents Night – Virgin Galactic Astronaut
David William Donald MacKay is the Chief Pilot of Virgin Galactic and the first
native born Scot to visit space.
Born into a Police Officer’s family in Scotland he
grew up in Helmsdale, Highland, where the low-flying aircraft from RAF
Lossiemouth caught his attention. David studied Aeronautical Engineering at the
University of Glasgow. He first piloted an aircraft in 1977 and joined the RAF
in 1979 to fly the Harrier GR3 in Germany and the Falklands.
From 1986 to 1988, through an exchange with the RAF's
Empire Test Pilots' School, David completed the French Test Pilot School (École
du personnel navigant d'essais et de réception – EPNER). In 1992 he served as
Commanding Officer of the RAF's Fast Jet Test Flight at RAF Boscombe Down. He
has conducted trials on the Harrier GR7, the Sea Harrier FA.2 and the Tucano
and flew with the Fixed Wing Test Squadron. In 1992 he was awarded the Air
Dave joined Virgin Atlantic in 1995, flying Boeing
747s as a Captain from 1999; he also flew the Airbus A340 from 2002. He has
over 11,000 hours flying from the RAF and Virgin Atlantic.
Dave joined Virgin Galactic in 2009 and is now the
Chief Pilot. On February 22, 2019 the suborbital spacecraft SpaceShipTwo (SS2)
- VSS Enterpriser reached Mach 3.5 and an altitude of 360,000 feet. On that day
Mackay became the 569th person to visit space.
This is an incredible opportunity to hear a first hand
account of a true space explorer.