Former Astronaut Scott Altman Remembered Forever

By Anna Yee

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March 13, 2011 Updated Mar 14, 2011 at 7:36 AM CDT

It's more than a statue, it's a school lesson.
As former astronaut commander Scott Altman and local artist Morgan Elser unveiled a bust of Altman, they also revealed the secret to success, education.

"The big thing, I think, is the next generation. People coming on, continuing to study science, math, engineering, 'cause I want to have people go to Mars, and it's not going to be me," says Altman.

Officials at the Tazewell County Museum & Educational Center put about 8,000 dollars into this latest project, commemorating more than Altman's thousands of hours in flight.

"It puts forward what we are about-- not just a place for older items that people no longer want, but items that people feel are important into the history of our county," says Tazewell County Museum President, Christal Dagit.

Scott Altman says he couldn't have achieved everything without the three most important things in his life: God, family and an F-14 plane. Morgan Elser engraved all those symbols and more into the statue, capturing Altman's personality in every detail.

"I just saw that he was a warm person, a very genuine person, and I also noticed that he had a little bit of a grin and he had really, really laughing eyes, so I wanted to capture that," says the artist, Morgan Elser.

Altman says, "I do think it's more of a symbol than 'me.' So many people worked so hard to give me the tools that I've needed to get to different places in my career, and it hasn't been me alone. It's been leaning on that base of support. So, now it's kind of an achievement for the community, Central Illinois, and I hope people can be proud of that."

The bust not only immortalizes the Pekin native's achievements, but also his characteristics, both mental and physical.

Alman laughs when we tell him; "Your mustache is immortalized now."
"I guess it's a good thing I never decided to shave it off," says Altman. "I guess they're not quite in vogue as they used to be, but it's me, so I gotta go with it."

Altman's image in any form is a reminder of his personal achievement and a catalyst to inspire our future.

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