Doesn't seem strange - seems like you read this line:
"My mind could not get over, from this point on, that this was something I had never experienced."
If he never experienced it before, it likely was his first time!
That is exactly what I mean. Doesn't it sound strange that they would have someone fly a SCA with the shuttle on it without any previous flight knowledge. I would at least think he would have had to be a copilot on a few flights before he flew it.
Well he must have at least the proper type-rating and enough hours in flight to be pilot in command, don't know what NASAs rules are, but in airline aviation (at least where I am flying) you've got to have at least 5.000 hours in flight in the book prior to beeing certified as captain.
But yes, it is strange that his first flight with an orbiter attached is in the left seat...would have thought you would need at least one or two flights with the SCA as a first officer (plus what I mentioned above of cause).
Lucky guy so, would do anything to be in his place.
The 747 is my favorite airliner and flying the SCA would be my greatest day.