Elmira Native makes history

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ELMIRA, N.Y (WETM) – Eileen M. Collins was named the grand marshal in the 2020 battle of the flowers parade.

Collins is known form the “Welcome to Elmira” and is displayed in various other artwork around the community. Collins was the first female commander during the Columbia Shuttle Mission in 1999.

“When I was very young and first started reading about astronauts, there were no women astronauts.” However, she was inspired while she was a child by the Mercury astronauts, and by the time she was in high school and college, new opportunities were opening up for women in aviation. “My timing was really great,” she said. Collins joined the Air Force, and during her first month of training, her base was visited by the newest astronaut class–the first to include women–and her path was set. “I wanted to be part of our nation’s space program. It’s the greatest adventure on this planet–or off the planet, for that matter. I wanted to fly the Space Shuttle.”

From now to her last mission, she was the first and only female shuttle commander.

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