William A. Pailes


William Arthur Pailes
Born (1952-06-26) June 26, 1952 (age 69)
Alma materUnited States Air Force Academy
Texas A&M University
OccupationComputer Scientist
Space career
USAF Astronaut
RankColonel, USAF Retired
Time in space
4d 01h 44 m
Selection1982 USAF Group
Mission insignia

William Arthur Pailes (Colonel, USAF) (born June 26, 1952) is a former USAF astronaut in the Manned Spaceflight Engineer Program during the mid-1980s. He served as a Payload Specialist on STS-51-J Atlantis (October 3–7, 1985).


Pailes was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, but considers Kinnelon, New Jersey, to be his hometown. He is married and is a former deacon and treasurer of his church in El Segundo, California. He has retired from teaching the AFJROTC Program at Temple High School in Temple, TX. He was the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor until August 2018.


Pailes graduated from Kinnelon High School in Kinnelon, New Jersey in 1970. He then received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado four years later.[1]

From 1974 to 1975 he attended pilot training at the Williams Air Force Base, Arizona where he trained as a HC-130 rescue pilot in the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. In 1978, he attended the Squadron Officer School.

Pailes received his Master of Science degree in Computer Science at Texas A&M University in 1981.[1]


He was an HC-130 pilot in Air Force Rescue from December 1975 to July 1980 in McClellan Air Force Base, California and Royal Air Force Base, Woodbridge, England. He was then Manager, mini-computer operating systems software development, from January 1982 to December 1982 at Headquarters Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. He was a Manned Spaceflight Engineer from January 1983 at USAF Manned Spaceflight Engineering Program, Los Angeles Air Force Station, California.

From August 2002 to 2011 he was the instructor of the AFJROTC Program, Corsicana, Texas, as a JROTC Senior Aerospace Science Instructor. From August 2011 to 2019, he was the instructor of the AFJROTC Program, Temple, Texas, as a JROTC Senior Aerospace Science Instructor.

He now lives in Missouri.

Spaceflight experience

Pailes flew as a payload specialist on STS-51-J Atlantis (October 3–7, 1985) which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and returned to land at Edwards Air Force Base, California. STS-51-J was the second Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission. It was also the maiden voyage of the Atlantis orbiter. Pailes traveled over 1.6 million miles in 64 Earth orbits and logged more than 97 hours in space.[1]

External links

  • Spacefacts biography of William A. Pailes


  1. ^ a b c "WILLIAM A. PAILES (MAJOR, USAF), PAYLOAD SPECIALIST" (PDF). October 1985. Retrieved May 14, 2021.