Astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper, J. was born in Shawnee, OK in 1927. Gordon's father was in the Air Force and inspired Gordon to later enlist in first the Marine Corps and then the Air Force. Gordon soon became a Flight Commander and went on to be an Aerospace Engineer before becoming a flight test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Gordon was then summoned to Washington D.C. to attend a briefing on NASA and what was to become the Mercury Program. Out of the 109 test pilots in the group, Darrell was selected to be in the top 7. In 1962 Gordon was selected to be Wally Shirra's back up pilot, but it wasn't until one year later that Gordo was launched into orbit on May 15, 1963 in the Mercury 9 Faith 7 capsule. On board this flight Gordon circled the Earth 22 times, longer than any previous Mercury astronaut. Mechanical problems posed a threat during re-entry, but due to Gordon's expertise in aligning the altitude out the window of the capsule with his watch, Gordon was able to safely re-enter the Earth's atmosphere. In 1965, Gordon served as Command Pilot of Gemini 5 on an eight-day endurance mission, becoming the first person to complete 2 orbital flights. In 1970, Gordon retired from NASA.
During the early 1960s, Gordon had developed a passion for treasure hunting and soon formed a relationship with famous treasure hunter Kip Wagner. Gordon went on to collaborate with Wagner and his company, The Real Eight Corporation, on salvaging the 1715 Fleet off the coast of Central Florida. Cooper also later worked for Disney, consulting on Space Mountain and Epcot before forming his own aeronautics company, Galaxy Aviation. In the late 1990s, Gordon and Darrell Miklos shared an office in Van Nuys, CA and went on many treasure hunting excursions together. It was in Gordon's office that he disclosed to Darrell that he had spotted mysterious anomalies from space during his Faith 7 flight. Gordon passed away on October 4, 2004 at the age of 77 due to heart failure at his home in Ventura, CA where he lived with his wife Suzan.