William R. "Bill" Pogue, a former astronaut and retired Air Force colonel from Sand Springs who was the pilot for the third and final Skylab space station mission, died Tuesday at his home in Florida, family members said. He was 84.

Funeral services are pending.

Pogue, together with astronauts Gerald Carr and Edward Gibson, spent 84 consecutive days in space from 1973 to 1974 aboard Skylab, the first American space station.

Their 12 weeks in orbit was a record at the time, topping the previous Skylab mission's eight weeks. They orbited the earth 1,214 times while aboard the station, traveling 35.5 million miles

Pogue made two spacewalks during the mission.

Born Jan. 23, 1930, in Okemah, Pogue grew up in Sand Springs. After graduating from Sand Springs High School in 1947, he entered the Air Force, beginning what would be a distinguished 25-year career.

Among the highlights, he was a combat fighter pilot in Korea and later spent two years as an aerobatic pilot with the Air Force's Thunderbirds.

In 1966, Pogue was among the applicants selected by NASA for the space program.

Pogue held a bachelor's degree in education from Oklahoma Baptist University and a master's degree in mathematics from Oklahoma State University.

Among his many awards and citations, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997.

The William R. Pogue Municipal Airport in Sand Springs is named for him.

Pogue enjoyed speaking at schools, and one of the most common questions he was asked led to a book.

Now in its third edition, Pogue's "How Do You Go to the Bathroom in Space?" answers that and many other of the queries he fielded from curious children and adults.

Tim Stanley 918-581-8385