October 24 (Wed) 7:00pm -CANCELLED- Special Edition Seminar- Virgin Galactic Lessons

Event Date: 
Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 7:00pm

NOTE: Due to the demands of the speaker’s responsibilities to Virgin Galactic, this seminar may be canceled at the last minute.  Please check your email announcements.

This seminar has been cancelled at this time due to the work demands from Virgin Galactic. We are so sorry for the late notice, but are optomistic in finding a better time to bring in our guest speaker in the new year. 





Introduction: Commercial Space operations and activities have emerged consistently and successfully in the last decade all over the world. Human access to space with commercial vehicles will be a reality in 2019, thanks to the efforts of companies like Boeing, Space-X, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. However, the level of difficulty to master such an incredible feat is at least one or two orders of magnitude higher than launching unmanned payloads into space.

Independently from the technology level and readiness available today, humans will remain the weak-link element to successfully foster commercial space initiatives.

Contents: Traditionally, the limits of human performance will be tested within two primary areas:

Decision making process:

55 years of human space exploration have demonstrated that poor decisions are at the core of avoidable space tragedies, such as the Apollo 1 fire accident in 1967, the loss of the Space Shuttles Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. Root cause in all these cases was complacency with a poor decision process, substantiated by previous positive outcomes from risk scenarios not well understood

Mission execution:

The loss of SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise during a flight test in October 2014 highlighted once again the performance limits of the human mind and how “human factors” play an essential role in cockpit design and operations

Conclusions: Other than facing many technical challenges, human commercial exploration will need to address the multitude of risks humans trigger when directly involved in the operations of spacecrafts. A methodical and consistent risk-assessment approach will allow for fully developments in commercial space exploration, allowing humanity to become a truly spacefaring civilization.


Nicola “Stick” Pecile

Nicola attended the Italian Air Force Academy earning a BS in Aeronautical Science. Upon graduation as a military pilot from Sheppard AFB, TX flying T-38s, he was assigned operationally to fly Tornados ADV FMk.3 in the Air Defense role.

In 2001, he was selected to join the Italian Air Force Test Centre and he attended the French Test Pilot School (EPNER), from which he graduated in 2003. He holds a MS in Astronautics Engineering – Space Missions, from the University of Rome – La Sapienza.

At the ItAF Test Centre, he served as a fixed and rotary wing test pilot on several programs. He flew envelope expansions and developmental flights on Tornado IDS, AM-X, C-27J, NH-90, NH-500E, AB-212 ICO and several others. He was also heavily involved in civilian certification programs such as, the AW-109S, AW-119 MkII, Ka-32A11BC, EH-101 and BA-609 Tilt Rotor.

In 2011, he joined the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, CA, as a civilian test pilot instructor, where he served as Chief of Operations, instructing on fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

In September 2015, he transferred to Virgin Galactic, where he currently serves as test pilot, safety officer and engineer on the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo flight test programs, supporting the transition into commercial space operations.

He has flown on 149 different types of aircraft and logged more than 5800 flying hours, spanning from high performance combat fighters, to transport aircraft, gliders and helicopters.


“Stick” is a Fellow of the international Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and he is the current Secretary of its Board of Directors. He is also a Member of AIAA, AOPA, the National Space Society and the Planetary Society.

This event qualifies for FAA Wings credit.

Any questions, contact us at (650) 946-1700 or info@sancarlosflight.com.

San Carlos Flight Center has created BAY FLIGHT 2018, an aviation conference for SF Bay Area pilots interested in staying current about the latest topics in aviation, learning new skills and techniques, and hearing from leaders in the field and will be held on Oct 27, 2018 (www.bayflight18.com).

San Carlos Flight Center is committed to promoting safety in general aviation through our evening safety seminar programs. Space is often limited so it is important to sign up early through the FAA event notification system at FAASAFETY.GOV. SCFC members may choose to watch the seminar live over the web at home. Contact your SCFC member service rep at (650) 946-1700 to confirm secure online access to any particular seminar.