John Glenn Astronaut GIjOE Motivated and Inspired Flight Test Engineer, April Zuber

Flight Test Engineer for the U.S. Army, April Zuber, posing with one of the Chinook helicopters she's been training in recently at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. (Photo: April Zuber)

I stumbled across April Zuber’s inspiring blog the other day and quickly realized she’s an amazing young woman. April’s a civilian Flight Test Engineer for the US Army at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, currently training to pilot Chinook helicopters. Her “ultimate dream” is to become the first Type 1 Diabetic in space.

April's second John Glenn GIjOE is proudly displayed on a shelf at her home. (Photo: April Zuber)

Her self-deprecating blog is entitled, “Nerdy April’s Space Adventures,” and details her daily struggle with the disease, alongside all of her amazing life achievements. It’s a fascinating and inspiring read (I’m already a big fan).

Surprisingly, as I was going through her blog, I came across an article she had written about her very own, very special GIjOE. It turns out her “favorite toy” was a Classic Collection John Glenn Astronaut GIjOE. Although the article is only a tiny snippet of her amazing life story, I thought Joe fans everywhere would enjoy reading it. Here’s her account…

“This may be a shocker for some, but I wasn’t really into Barbies when I was little. My toys mainly consisted of a few stuffed animals, those little kiddie computers, some Hot Wheels cars and a bucket full-o-spacemen.

The other day I was looking around my office/media room and noticed one of my all-time favorite Christmas presents, one that I had received TWICE. I’ll give you a hint: he’s handsomely dressed in a silver spacesuit, carries a life support system and grins through his space helmet. Oh, and he comes with his very own Mercury capsule! He is pretty much ‘thebombdotcom.’

April with her first John Glenn GIjOE. This one would be destroyed in a fire. (Photo: April Zuber)

Here’s a picture of the first time I laid eyes on my Mr. John Glenn GIjOE. He would hang out on my shelf, always looking over shoulder at my studies and providing motivation. I often wondered if John Glenn ever thought he would turn into a GIjOE doll, haha.

Well, I didn’t exactly have room for him when I moved away (6 miles) to college, so I carefully packed him up and put him in the attic of my parent’s house. I imagined he was content up there, chillaxin’ with all my other space stuff. You know, trading stories and acting all space-man-like.

In August 2006, we lost my John Glenn GIjOE in a house fire. I will admit I was a little sad about it. I was sad about losing ALL my stuff. I was sad when I found what was left of my own flight suit in the garage, it was singed on the edges enough that it fell into about 8 pieces. I was sad about the black metal ball that used to be my dad’s moon globe. And I was sad that my John Glenn GIjOE had made his final mission. There wasn’t even a scrap of him left!

This photo clearly shows the after-effects of the house fire that destroyed April's parents attic and all of its contents. (Photo: April Zuber)

My parents felt bad about it all too. I told them not to be. The fire wasn’t their fault. And it was all just stuff…it could be replaced. And it was! That Christmas they gifted me with a brand NEW John Glenn GIjOE. He was just like Mr. John Glenn GIjOE #1, silver space suit and all. John Glenn #2 now sits proudly on a shelf in my own house and overlooks my studies and motivates me once again. He is still a freakin’ badass. I heart you Mr. Glenn!

Our thanks and best wishes to April for allowing us to repost the above article here. Her informative and amusing “Nerdy April” blog is an inspirational resource for young people everywhere who aspire to careers in flight engineering, space exploration, helicopter piloting, sky diving, scuba diving—EVERYTHING April does. We look forward to watching this amazing woman take off on her first spaceflight someday. Onward and upward, April!


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