As a child, Major General Charles Bolden knew that he wanted to be a pilot. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Charles grew up in the 1950s, a time when a young African American boy might be discouraged from such an endeavor. Charles not only became a pilot, but also a space shuttle commander.
Charles Bolden entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1964. After graduating, he earned a position as a Marine Corps pilot and served in the Vietnam War. After the war, Charles went on to become a test pilot. As a test pilot, Charles flew many new forms of aircraft. One of the newest forms of aircraft at the time was the space shuttle. He was selected by NASA to join their astronaut program in 1980. In 1990, Charles was aboard the space shuttle mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope was the first of its kind, allowing scientists to see into parts of deep space they had never seen before. Charles continued to command longer and more difficult missions until 1995. He has logged over 680 hours in space.
Today, Major General Charles Bolden commands a 7,500-member Marine Aircraft Wing. He has won many awards, including an honorary degree from the University of South Carolina and entrance into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame. Major General Bolden also visits schools to encourage students to follow their dreams.