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Mor on Dr. Pat Hillard

Astronaut Dies of Injuries from Plane Crash

By SPACE.com staff and wire reports
posted: 09:00 am ET
25 May 2001   
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NASA astronaut Dr. Patricia Hilliard Robertson died Thursday night of
injuries she sustained from a plane crash in Texas. She was 38. 

"We're grieving at the loss of one of our own. It's a sad day," NASA
spokesman John Ira Petty told SPACE.com. "We're still praying for the
health of the pilot that was flying with Patty."

A tree-planting ceremony -- a Johnson Space Center tradition where a tree
is planted on their grounds for each fallen astronaut -- is planned for
Tuesday. She will be buried in her home state of Pennsylvania. 

Robertson had sustained second- and third-degree burns on more than 90
percent of her body after a two-seater plane she was riding crashed into
some trees and burst into flames Tuesday. Witnesses said the plane --
carrying Robertson and pilot Roy Mack Paul Adams, 46 -- cartwheeled after
practicing landing and takeoff maneuvers near Wolfe Air Park in Manvel,
about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Houston. 

The single-engine plane was owned and flown by Adams, who was in critical
condition Friday at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, according to
the Associated Press. 

Robertson, born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, received her undergraduate and
medical degrees in her home state. After completing her training in
family medicine in 1992, Robertson joined a group practice in Erie,

She was on the staff of St. Vincent hospital for three years where she
served as the clinical coordinator for medical student training and also
provided training and supervision for resident physicians. In 1995 Dr.
Robertson was one of two fellows selected to study aerospace medicine at
the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, and at the
Johnson Space Center in Houston.

While enrolled as a Space Medicine Fellow, Robertson completed a research
project where she studied eccentric and concentric resistive exercise
countermeasures for spaceflight. 

Robertson also was a member of the faculty at UTMB in the Departments of
Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine. In 1997, Robertson joined the
Flight Medicine Clinic at Johnson Space Center where she provided
healthcare for astronauts and their families, as well as served as
chairman of the Bone, Muscle and Exercise Integrated Product Team.

Selected by NASA in June 1998, Robertson reported for training at Johnson
Space Center in Houston in August of that year. She became a candidate in
training for the Astronaut Medical Corps. 

Astronaut candidate training includes orientation briefings and tours,
numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in
shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training
and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, along with
instruction in water and wilderness survival techniques.

She previously worked in the flight medicine clinic at the space center,
where she provided healthcare for astronauts and their families.


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