Tom Wolfe writes in the book “The Right Stuff” about early jet pilots that demonstrated extreme bravery, and behaviorisms that enabled them to be part of a furtive group of individuals. It has been said that these men usually assemble in groups among themselves in a way that solicited the men to be a part of a privileged membership. It is these pilots with proven courage, and abilities that will go forward testing the next barrier; space.
These tried and tested men have willingly placed themselves in danger day in and day out yearning for the spot up the ladder to the top of the pyramid. It was not just a job for these pilots to break the sound barrier and beyond, but rather an obsession to become the next man at the top:
Tom Wolfe explains that a career in flying was like climbing one of those ancient Babylonian pyramids made up of a dizzy progression of steps and ledges, a ziggurat, a pyramid extraordinary high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and even – ultimately, God willing, one day – that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men’s eyes, the very Brotherhood of the Right Stuff itself. (17-18).
To the pilot, danger was never programmed in their minds, as that was a sign of weakness. Tom Wolfe further explains that at every level in one’s progress up that staggering high pyramid, the world was once more divided into those men who had the right stuff to continue to climb and those who had to be left behind in the most obvious ways (18)
Wolfe also explains to the readers that those at a lower on the ladder were usually called a “hot dog”, and it is these men who had just had just started to climb their ladder to the top. Some of these young pilots would either make it further up the pyramid, and the others would simply become another casualty.
Secrecy was a way of survival for the pilots and the wives of the men who were understood to have the right stuff. These pilots seem to associate only with...