In a high-altitude partial pressure suit, Capt. Iven C. Kincheloe Jr. and an F-104.

Memorial to "The First Spaceman"

Field review by the editors.

Penn, Michigan

Iven Carl Kincheloe Jr. was dubbed "America's No. 1 Spaceman" when he flew a Bell X-2 to the edge of outer space on September 7, 1956 -- long before the cosmonauts and astronauts actually reached space in the early 1960s. He could have been an astronaut himself, but he died in an F-104 plane crash on July 26, 1958, only a few weeks past his 30th birthday.

Iven is buried in Virginia, beneath an unexciting tombstone in Arlington National Cemetery. His hometown in Michigan erected a much more interesting monument in his honor on November 22, 1963 -- unfortunately the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated -- a rock with his picture painted on it, a bronze plaque to "The First Spaceman," and an angled obelisk with a tiny chrome X-2 pointed upward, toward heaven. The monument was designed by architect William Henry Dacey, and restored in 2006.

Memorial to "The First Spaceman"

Address:
Hwy 60, Penn, MI
Directions:
On the south side of Hwy 60, at the entrance to tiny Moon Cemetery. It's just west of Hwy 60's intersection with Decatur Rd, and two miles east of its intersection with Hwy 62 in downtown Cassopolis.
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In the region:
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October 14, 2019

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