Virgin Galactic hires 2 new pilots into Pilot Corps, will fly SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic announced the appointment of two new pilots into its Pilot Corps, bringing the total number of pilots to eight.

Jameel Janjua has completed over 4,000 flying hours in more than 45 different vehicles throughout his career. Virgin Galactic Photo
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Jameel Janjua and Patrick Moran will be based at Spaceport America, New Mexico, and join the Virgin Galactic team as preparations for commercial service continue.

Dave Mackay, Virgin Galactic’s chief pilot, said, “I am delighted to welcome Jameel Janjua and Pat Moran to the Virgin Galactic Pilot Corps. Jameel and Pat both come with a tremendous range and depth of experience of both military and civilian aviation, and test flying in particular. Their backgrounds, in addition to their accomplished interpersonal skills, will make them hugely valuable – particularly as we prepare for, and soon enter, commercial passenger operations. Virgin Galactic is fortunate to have secured the services of two such high-calibre pilots, and we eagerly anticipate their contributions to the team as a whole.”

Both will embark on an extensive training program before flying SpaceShipTwo. In addition to the spaceship, the pilots will also train to fly the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve. VMS Eve provides a way for the pilots to fly simulated parts of the SpaceShipTwo flight trajectory, gaining valuable hands-on training. Other assignments for the pilots will include flying other company support aircraft, working mission control, flight planning, and support various detailed engineering and project roles across the company.

Patrick Moran served as a pilot in the Marine Corps for 20 years. Virgin Galactic Photo

While Janjua and Moran will initially operate in a test pilot capacity, they, along with the rest of the Pilot Corps, will ultimately become the world’s first commercial spaceship pilots, flying Future Astronauts on their life-changing journey into space and back.

“Helping to democratize space travel is a unique honour, and I am thrilled and humbled to be joining the Virgin Galactic Pilot Corps,” said Janjua. “With society on the cusp of opening space to all humankind, I cannot think of a more privileged role than to be a small part of the amazing team guiding people to their dreams and beyond. I am excited to join our future astronauts on their personal and insightful journeys and I’m looking forward to witnessing, first-hand, the variety of reactions these life-changing experiences will evoke.”

Our Virgin Galactic Pilots serve an essential role in the flight experience of our Future Astronauts.  The pilots will join the Future Astronauts at various points in their training program, helping emphasize and provide details about various key elements of their upcoming spaceflight. All pilots are ambassadors of the Virgin Galactic brand and will work to provide Future Astronauts with an out of this world adventure.

Both Janjua and Moran bring a wealth of aircraft flight and flight test experience; they were picked from a small group of specialized pilots who meet the strict criteria needed to be considered for the role of a Virgin Galactic pilot.

“I am excited to join this fantastic team of talented pioneers leading the charge for commercial space travel and now in the final stages of its flight test program,” Moran said. “As a flight instructor I loved to take people flying in the F/A-18 for the first time, to see their huge smiles as they climbed out of the cockpit. I can’t wait to share the experience of going to space with our future astronauts and to see their reactions as they step out of the spaceship and describe their views of Earth from space.”

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Jameel Janjua and Patrick Moran will embark on an extensive training program before flying SpaceShipTwo, an air-launched suborbital spaceplane type designed for space tourism. Virgin Gallactic Photo

Each of them has flown in both military and commercial roles, involving training, operations and test, as well as flying passengers and managing crew. Janjua has completed over 4,000 flying hours in more than 45 different vehicles throughout his career, which spans over 20 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He completed exchange tours for the Royal Air Force and the U.S Air Force and is on the board of directors for the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).

Moran served as a pilot in the Marine Corps for 20 years, including roles as a test pilot, test pilot school instructor, and the lead government test pilot for Navy and Marine Corps versions of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He then entered business aviation as a broker, consultant, and charter pilot, and joins Virgin Galactic with over 3,000 flight hours in 34 different aircraft.

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