Astronauts were pilots first and showmen second. And while the silver flight suits and the smiling press events and the ticker-tape parades belied that, they were hired for their unique understanding of the machines they flew and their hardheaded ability to coax the most from them. That was Schirra's gift. And if flipping off his boss was necessary to get his work done, well, he was happy to do that too. Kraft, 83, wound up respecting Schirra for that act of defiance. Schirra was happy to get that nod. But the fact was, the pilot in him really didn't need it.