Many young children want to be astronauts when they grow up, but for the vast majority, it remains just a dream. Fewer than 600 people in history have actually flown in space—and Walt Cunningham is one of them.
Growing up in Southern California during World War II, Walt had an early affinity for fighter jets—He could identify the plane type just by its sound in the sky. He enlisted in the Navy after high school, but ended up transferring to the Marines when he found out it was the only surefire way to sit in the cockpit of a single engine fighter plane. He accomplished just that.
On May 24, 1962, the trajectory of Walt's life changed forever when he heard the radio broadcast of the Mercury 7 launch, when Alan Shepherd became the first American (and second person) to go to space. Six years later, in October 1968, Walt spent 11 days in space on the Apollo 7 mission. Getting into space involves an intense selection process at NASA and grueling training, but Walt believes that success is only possible with single-minded determination and hard work.
"You've got to be able to try for whatever you want to do," he says. "You've gotta be willing to stick your neck out."
Walt's accomplishments didn't begin and end with NASA. Walt's resume includes fighter pilot, physicist, entrepreneur, Harvard Business School graduate, venture capitalist, aerospace consultant and author. Today, Walt is still as sharp as a tack and keeping busy as a radio talk show host and public speaker. In rare moments of free time, Walt enjoys zipping around in his Corvette.
Walt knows that eye protection is critical to maintaining an active lifestyle at age 86.
"I feel fortunate at my age that my eyes are still working, and I wear sunglasses every day." Walt's sunglasses of choice: Eagle Eyes. In fact, Walt has been a loyal customer of Eagle Eyes for almost 30 years, and he appreciates the range of styles and technologies—TriLenium®, NightLite®, StimuLight®, DigiTec®—and styles.
"I'm still wearing them! But as my eyes keep getting worse, I've noticed that Eagle Eyes has evolved into addressing some of the physiological issues that come along with age. As the years go on, you realize how much you have to protect your eyes."
Walt knows better than anyone what makes Eagle Eyes special: They were developed from original NASA optic technology.
Walt may no longer be launching into space or coursing through the sky in a fighter jet, but he still has the spirit of adventure—and the same copilot, time and time again.
"When I'm driving sports cars and wearing my Eagle Eyes sunglasses, I feel like I did when I was flying airplanes."
Shop all of Walt's favorite styles, learn more about Walt or meet our other Heroes.