SITTING around a table discussing school issues is probably the last place you’d expect to find a future astronaut.

But, this is exactly what Gomeldon Primary School parent governors experienced, as former Winterbourne Dauntsey resident Dave Mackay becomes the “first Salisbury man” to break through the upper atmosphere.

Having called the area his home for more than two decades, the chief pilot of Virgin Galactic realised his long-held dream by taking SpaceShipTwo, the VSS Unity, into outer space during a mission earlier this year.

Salisbury Journal:

“It all worked out beautifully,” admitted Dave, who has been the company’s chief pilot since 2011.

“At the time we were trying to get as much data as we possibly could.

“My initial feeling after the test flight was one of relief. What that flight showed to me was that we have a fantastic product.

“I felt really, really, really pleased!”

He added: “The personal goal was less important. I always wanted to fly in space, and even though I achieved my life’s ambition it was less important to me than getting this programme achieved.”

Salisbury Journal:

Dave explained that the aim of the flight was to test for information about the craft’s centre of gravity and how it would handle in ‘feather configuration’ – when its wings fold down to control the craft’s landing.

That flight, which was the fifth attempt to break into space, took place above the Mojave Desert in California, and reached an altitude of 55.85miles (294,9007ft), which is considered by NASA to be ‘space’ and beyond

It also made the 61-year-old the first native-born Scot to visit the great unknown.

Salisbury Journal:

“When I was a parent governor I was concentrating on being a great parent governor, not about space,” Dave jokingly reminisced.

“But, from early 2004 I was doing a little bit with this project – so that was definitely at the back of my mind, sometimes in governors meetings!”

As testing continues, it’s not known when commercial flights will begin.