F-16 Fighter Pilot to NASA Astronaut & 200 Days in Space

Terry Virts Podcast


In episode 8 of The Adventure Diaries, host Chris Watson sits down with Colonel Terry Virts, a seasoned NASA astronaut with a stellar career spanning from high-speed jet piloting to commanding the International Space Station (ISS).

The episode not only delves deep into Virts’ extraordinary experiences but also ignites a passion for space and exploration among its listeners.

Terry Virts Is Guest on Adventure Diaries Podcast Episode 8
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Early Inspirations and Challenges

Terry Virts, who began his career as a fighter pilot flying F-16s, shares insights from his intense and often perilous training experiences, highlighting a journey marked by challenges and incredible achievements.

His transition from military aviation to becoming a NASA astronaut reflects a life dedicated to pushing boundaries and exploring the unknown.

Virts’ stories from flying both the space shuttle and Russian Soyuz craft offer a rare glimpse into the demanding world of space travel and the collaborative spirit of international space missions.

A Golden Age of Space Exploration

Throughout the interview, Virts emphasizes the resurgence of interest in space exploration, fueled by advancements in technology and renewed international cooperation.

He points to the Artemis projects and the dynamic rivalry between innovators like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos as catalysts for this new era.

This segment of the discussion is particularly enlightening as Virts discusses the technical complexities and the sheer thrill of space travel, providing an inspirational look at what the future holds for aspiring astronauts and space enthusiasts.

Episode Takeaways

  • Don’t tell yourself no when pursuing your dreams
  • The training to become a fighter pilot and astronaut is challenging but rewarding
  • Flying an F-16 and the space shuttle are very different experiences
  • Seeing Earth from space provides a unique perspective on borders and political systems
  • Democracy and freedom are important for human progress Terry Virts shares his experiences as an astronaut and his time on the International Space Station.
  • He discusses the challenges of organizing and managing thousands of photos taken in space.
  • Virts talks about the future of space travel and the importance of private-public partnerships.
  • He reflects on his relationship with the Russian cosmonauts and the geopolitical tensions during his time in space.
  • Virts recommends outdoor adventures and highlights the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Call To Adventure

  • Disconnect to Reconnect: Virts encourages embracing outdoor adventures such as sea kayaking in Alaska, which was part of his astronaut training. This experience is about more than just paddling through icy waters; it’s about connecting with nature and learning leadership and survival skills in the wild.
  • Witnessing Nature’s Majesty: Observing orcas and eagles, encountering bears, and experiencing the profound tranquility of Alaska’s vast wilderness can rejuvenate the spirit and inspire personal and professional growth.
  • The Importance of Breaks: In our ultra-connected world, taking time to disconnect is vital for mental health and creativity. Virts highlights the necessity of stepping away from screens and immersing oneself in nature to find clarity and perspective.

Pay It Forward

  • Supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind: Virts passionately speaks about “Guide Dogs for the Blind,” a charity that trains dogs to help visually impaired individuals gain independence. This cause is close to his heart, emphasizing compassion and support for those in need.
  • Impact of the Documentary ‘Pick of the Litter’: This film showcases the emotional journey of guide dogs and their trainers, illustrating the profound impact these animals have on the lives of their human companions.
  • Enhancing Lives: Contributing to this charity not only changes the lives of the visually impaired but also honors the incredible work of the dogs and trainers involved.

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The Power of Perseverance

Virts’ narrative is a powerful reminder of the resilience required both in space and on Earth.

From handling emergency situations on the ISS to conducting complex spacewalks, his experiences underscore the critical importance of calm under pressure, a theme that resonates deeply with anyone facing personal or professional challenges.


Terry Virts’ journey is a testament to the power of dreams and the importance of perseverance. His stories inspire us to reach for the stars while staying grounded in our humanity and the causes we care about.

For those enchanted by the limitless possibilities of space and the beauty of our planet, this episode of “The Adventure Diaries” is a call to explore the unknown, whether it’s in the depths of space or the wilds of our world.

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