Winston Scott, Jazz-Astronaut

toots horn for FIT youth

Captain Winston Scott keeps a trumpet in his office at Florida Institute of Technology, because, well, you never know when you’re going to need one.

“I practice almost every day,” said Scott.

As senior vice president for external relations and economic development at the Melbourne university, Scott is always in the public eye, and a trumpet often comes in handy when winning an audience.

In April of 2015, Scott will grab the trumpet to play with the Melbourne High School Jazz Band during a concert at Atlantic Music in Melbourne. As a member of Florida Tech’s TWITCHY faculty band, Scott puts the trumpet to good use during many special events that benefit the community. He also teaches the by-audition-only advanced jazz classes at Florida Tech, often plays with the school’s Jazz Syndicate ensemble during Jazz Friday events at the Foosaner Art Museum and performs with Winston Scott’s Cosmic Ensemble, which includes well-known local pros such as Ron Teixera. 

A trumpet always nearby, the Miami native has segued from a distinguished military and space career to his current position, which includes a good dose of community work that in particular focuses on encouraging youth to follow their dreams. 

Scott has a lifelong commitment to community service, which has included volunteer flying for Angel Flight South Center, instruction at the Bronze Eagle Summer Flight Academy, helping Habitat for Humanity building projects and serving as associate board chair of the Tallahassee Challenger Learning Center.

A keynote speaker at major conferences for A-list companies such as Microsoft, Scott is equally at ease in public school classrooms, where he serves to inspire students to achieve and to pursue careers in science and technology. He is a frequent speaker at Boys and Girls Clubs throughout Florida. 

“I do a lot of school visits,” said Scott. “I want to motivate the next generation.”

As astronaut, Scott is a rare bird, a music major from Florida State University’s Class of 1972. He joined the Navy in 1972, becoming an aviator and a captain during a career that spanned from 1972 to 1999 and included a seven-year stint as mission specialist and flight engineer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Beyond NASA, Scott served alma mater Florida State as vice president for student affairs. He was also associate dean at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, executive director of Florida Space Authority and vice president and deputy general manager of Jacobs Engineering’s Engineering and Science Contract Group.

His days in space may be history, but Scott stays connected with the space program, visiting Kennedy Space Center for special appearances and serving as commentator for events such as the recent Orion launch. As a technical advisor to NBC and its affiliates, Scott provided commentaries and interviews for major space events. He was featured on several PBS and Discovery Channel documentaries on space and his book, “Reflections from Earth Orbit,” was published in 2005. Florida appointed him to the board of supervisors of Florida Space Authority, the organization that directs all non-NASA space flight activities in the state. In short, Scott may not be in space, but space is still very much a part of him.

“My space experience continues to dominate my life,” said Scott.

His years with the space program also allows him a unique vantage point to see the evolution of the space program.

“We’re in between eras in the space program now, and we’re still defining the future,” he said. 

Thanks to the Piper Saratoga he owns, Scott still has the freedom of flying, often hopping as far as Canada in his private plane.

Beyond the flying and the trumpet, Scott stays active with tennis at Eau Gallie Yacht Club, tinkering with electronics and practicing martial arts as a second degree black belt in Shotokan Karate.

Retirement is nowhere in the horizon. “I don’t know that I will ever retire,” said Scott. “I like to stay active.”