July 20, 2021 —Carl Gustav Planck Jr. recently celebrated his 103rd birthday with a gathering of family in the Kendal at Lexington Borden Health Center.
Carl Plank was born in Charleston, SC. on July 12, 1918.
He spent his younger years in Lake Wales, FL and then went to high school in Charleston, SC. Plank then went to Clemson University, which was military at the time. He learned to fly at Clemson through Civil Air Patrol. Upon graduation, he went into Army Air Corp as an officer. Right after joining, our country went to war and he was sent to train to fly P-38 Lightning Fighter. He was sent to the Pacific. He ran head-on to a Japanese Zero, ditched his plane, swam ashore, and lived for four months with people native to a Japanese held island.
After the war, Plank was stationed at Right Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He left active duty and stayed on as a civilian. He worked on the Dinosaur Program, which was a pre-runner to the Space Shuttle. His work on that was the reason he was hired at NASA in 1964. He worked on the Gemini and Apollo programs. He was working in the control room during the Apollo 13 Crisis.
He retired from NASA in 1974 and enjoyed his retirement traveling around the country with his wife Patty in their RV. He has now been retired longer than he worked and currently resides at the Borden Center at Kendal at Lexington.