After entering the Air Force, Collins completed flight training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi in T-6 Texans, then moved to San Marcos Air Force Base and James Connally Air Force Base, Texas. He was chosen for advanced day fighter training at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, flying F-86 Sabres. This was followed by an assignment to the 21st Fighter-Bomber Wing at the George Air Force Base, California, where he learned how to deliver nuclear weapons. He transferred with the 21st when it was relocated to Chaumont-Semoutiers Air Base, France in June 1954.
During a NATO exercise in the summer of 1956, Collins was forced to eject from an F-86 after a fire started aft of the cockpit. He was safely rescued and returned to Chaumont AB, where a wait of several hours ensued, as the base's flight surgeon had joined search parties looking for Collins.
Collins met Patricia Finnegan, his future wife, in an officers' mess. She was from Boston, Massachusetts, and was working for the Air Force service club. After getting engaged, they had to overcome a difference in religion. Collins was nominally Episcopalian, while Finnegan came from a staunchly Roman Catholic family. Collins's father had been raised a Catholic, but converted to Protestantism when he married. The rest of his family remained Catholic. After seeking permission to marry from Finnegan's father, and delaying their wedding when Collins was redeployed to West Germany during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, they married in the summer of 1957. Daughter Kate Collins, born in 1958, is a successful actress.
After Collins was reassigned to the United States, he attended an aircraft maintenance officer course at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois. He would later describe this school as "dismal" in his autobiography. Upon completing the course, he was posted to a Mobile Training Detachment (MTD) and travelled to Air Force bases, training mechanics on the servicing of new aircraft.
Read more about this topic: Michael Collins (astronaut)
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