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Charles Justiz

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Dr. Charles Justiz, Ph.D. is a pilot, corporate aviation consultant and author of Specific Impulse, the first of a science-based trilogy[1] scheduled to be made into a motion picture in 2013.[2][needs update]


A first generation Cuban American, Charles Richard Justiz was born December 9, 1952 to Dr. Charles Tomas Justiz, a general surgeon, and Gloria Frederica Catalina Gonzalez del Real Justiz in Miami, Florida. Justiz's father had practices in both Havana and Miami, but closed his practice in Havana during the Castro revolution in 1959 and moved the family to Miami permanently. Their former home in Havana is now the Cuban Ministry of Marriages.[3]

The second of five children, Justiz’s love for flying began when his father took private flying lessons in order to get over his fear of heights.[3] He took fourteen-year-old Charles with him. Charles immediately expressed his interest for flying to his father. His father, in turn, took him for an orientation lesson with his instructor. The next week, Charles quit Boy Scouts and joined the Civil Air Patrol. He began taking odd jobs to earn enough money for flying lessons and set his sights on the United States Air Force Academy.[4]

Aviation career[edit]

As of January 2012, Justiz has logged in excess of 16,000 flight hours in more than 100 different types of aircraft during his career.[5] After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1974,[6] Justiz served as an Officer in the United States Air Force, spending tours of duty as an instructor pilot at Webb Air Force Base as well as ultimately doing flight test at Eglin Air Force Base.[7] He joined NASA in 1980 and served as a research pilot there for thirty years. Tasked by NASA to test the research aircraft which are considered to have reduced safety margins,[8] Justiz has been rated as both an instructor pilot and an examiner pilot in the Astronaut T-38, in the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA)[9] and the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA). He is also rated as an instructor pilot and examiner pilot in the KC-135 and C-9 NASA's weightless training aircraft.[10] In the weightless training aircraft, affectionately known as the "vomit comet", he has logged over 40,000 parabolas.[11][not in citation given] Justiz has flown over Mach 2 (approximately 1400 miles per hour) in the F-4 and F-111 and as high as 68,000 feet in NASA's WB-57 high altitude aircraft.[4] His most memorable job at NASA was chasing thirteen space shuttles after their re-entry[4] and he is only one of two pilots in the world to chase the space shuttle out of orbit with both a T-38[12] and an STA, a highly modified corporate-type turbojet.[5] Justiz logged over 15,000 shuttle approaches in the STA.[citation needed]

During his tenure with the space agency, Justiz was heavily involved in developing training and safety curriculum for NASA's various flight programs. He trained every NASA shuttle astronaut.[5] His role in training the astronauts for Challenger in 1986 was portrayed by actor Woody Watson in the 1990 film Challenger. Justiz served as the lead for the Human Spaceflight requirements team that formally defined standards and conditions for humans in launch vehicles, space stations and space habitats. He served as an investigator in the video assessment sub-team (VAST) following the Challenger accident. Justiz was also responsible for developing the Crew Resource Management Program for NASA aviators and pushed to get it adopted.[4] One of his most notable contributions was when Dr. Justiz managed a program for space shuttle pilots called a portable in-flight landing operations trainer (PILOT).[13] PILOT was so successful, NASA required it to be carried on all shuttle missions and for all shuttle pilots to use this system from November 1993 to the end of the program in July 2011 [7] Justiz also served as Chief of Aviation Safety for NASA. Following his retirement from NASA in June 2010, Justiz started his own company, JFA Corporate Aviation Safety Consulting, and currently performs safety and management oversight of fourteen flight departments.[14]


Justiz graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering in 1974. In 1986, he earned a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston for his work in computer and controls systems engineering.[4] A NASA Doctoral Fellow, Justiz holds an Adjunct Associate Professorship at the University of Houston in Aerospace Engineering and a Doctorate from the University of Houston for his research in Computational Aero-Thermochemistry, Thermo Physics and Plasma Dynamics.[15] Justiz has authored twenty (20) technical papers on in-flight simulation, as well as thirty (30) technical papers on ionized plasma flows around charged spacecraft. Dr. Justiz is also a former instructor for the University of Colorado where he taught several graduate courses in astrodynamics and spacecraft mission design.[7]


His first novel, Specific Impulse was released in May 2010 and is the first of a trilogy of science fiction thrillers involving characters Jake Sabio, a former submarine commander, Carin Gonzales, a former Air Force officer and space scientist and F.R.E.D., machine-based intelligence in the form of a computer.[16] The novel received a five star Clarion Review from Foreword Reviews[17] and was named a finalist in the Thriller & Suspense category for the 2011 Foreword INDIES.[18] Kevin Van Hook has written the screenplay for Specific Impulse and the movie is scheduled to begin production in 2013.[needs update]


Dr. Justiz lives in Seabrook, Texas with his wife, Dayna Steele, a former rock and roll radio air personality and author of Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success From the World's Greatest Rock Stars, and his three sons.


  1. "Book Review: Specific Impulse by Charles Justiz" by Fitz, Blogcritics.org, Seattle pi April 26, 2011 http://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/blogcritics/article/Book-Review-Specific-Impulse-by-Charles-Justiz-886124.php
  2. "Specific Impulse Lands a Writer" by John Shannon MovieVine.com December 15, 2011 http://www.movievine.com/movies/specific-impulse-lands-a-writer/
  3. 3.0 3.1 "From NASA Pilot to Sci-Fi Author" by Marene Guston Intown Magazine 2011 http://www.intownmag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31:charles-justiz&catid=4:home-page&Itemid=1
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Flying High and Fast" by Heather Smith, March 2012 http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/9-12/features/flying-high-and-fast.html
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Interview with Charles Justiz" by Amy Beth Inverness Amybethinverness.com January 27, 2012 http://amybethinverness.com/2012/01/27/interview-with-charles-justiz/
  6. USAFA Class of 1974 page 539 http://www.e-yearbook.com/yearbooks/United_States_Air_Force_Academy_Colorado_Springs_Polaris_Yearbook/1974/Page_539.html
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2012-02-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Testing Planes, Teaching Astronauts" by Erin D. McKenzie, The Cougar Engineer, Winter 2009 http://www.egr.uh.edu/cougarengineer/winter2009/winter2009.pdf[permanent dead link]
  9. "Super Simulator" by Dave Simeur, SW Aviator February/March 2001 http://www.swaviator.com/html/issueJF05/SuperSimulator.html
  10. "Students Take a Virtual Field Trip Into the World of Weightlessness" by Debbie Nguyen, JSC Features, December 20, 2005 http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/jscfeatures/articles/000000462.html
  11. "Virtual Trip Into the World of Weightlessness" by Maggie Griffin, Debbie Nguyen http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/9-12/features/F_World_of_Weightlessness.html
  12. ""Flyover" by Robert Markowitz April 29, 2009 http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1336.html
  13. "Columbia Carries Crew of 7 Into Space" NY Times October 19, 1993 https://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/19/science/columbia-carries-crew-of-7-into-space.html?pagewanted=2
  14. "What Do Former Astronauts Do?" by Phil Scott, AARP, April 13, 2011 http://www.aarp.org/work/job-hunting/info-04-2011/former-astronauts-job-hunting.html
  15. "Piggyback" The Amarillo Independent September 24, 2009 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-03. Retrieved 2012-03-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. "an Interview with Charles Justiz: Specific Impulse by Amy Day, February 17, 2012 http://strategymagazine.com/Column-Speech/Getting-Published/an-interview-with-charles-justiz-specific-impulse.html[permanent dead link]
  17. "Review of Specific Impulse". Foreword Reviews. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  18. "2011 Foreword INDIES Finalists in Thriller & Suspense (Adult Fiction)". Foreword Reviews. Retrieved 30 October 2018.

External links[edit]

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