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What Was Your Experience Of Apollo 11? — 15 Comments

  1. My family was driving from Chicago to Disneyland while the astronauts were flying to the moon. Each night we’d race to our motel room to watch/listen to their progress on TV. At Disneyland we road “Mission to the Moon”and beat the astronauts to the moon. We watched the landing on the big tv screen in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. I just found out that a friend from college was also in the crowd.

  2. What a day to remember! In the morning, I was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy in Newport, Rhode Island. There was a small celebration that afternoon with my parents who had driven up from New Orleans for the commissioning ceremony and the wife and daughter who had put up with my mostly being absent during the months of training. But we really spent most of our time packing up. I was being transferred to Charleston, South Carolina, for my first shipboard tour, and the movers were arriving early the next morning.

    But late that evening, I set up the tripod and 35mm camera in the darkened living room and took photos of the television screen as we all watched the first lunar landing. The photos were grainy, made the poor resolution of the video worse and had the raster scan lines clearly visible. I turned them into digital files a couple of years ago, so I still have access to them. One of them shows President Nixon in an inset speaking via telephone to the astronauts on the surface of the moon.

    How apropos that as I was entering a new world of naval service that would last 25 years, involve many adventures and challenges and take me to 30 countries, mankind was first setting foot on another astronomical body.

  3. I have not been able to copy and paste, and I have not found a widget for upload of files. I’m good with following instructions, though. If you know how I can do it, I’ll be delighted to post.

  4. I was 7, and we were on our way to Colorado from St. Louis for a summer vacation. We stopped in Columbia Mo., went to a dormitory at the University, and watched the landing on a black and white tv with a bunch of college kids in the lobby.
    To a 7 yr old, NASA and space exploration were the natural/expected future! Of course I would study the sciences. I also remember later at school seeing models of rockets and a fantastic spaceship that would be the Shuttles!
    The in world to me, the US was The Good Guys. We would overcome.
    The 70’s kinda tempered that a bit.
    But 50 yrs later, I still remember that feeling, and remain inspired by those days!
    (Still think we’re ‘the good guys’)😉

    • What wonderful memories! I hear a lot of hope, optimism, and a positive sense of the future! How we need that so badly this day and age! Thank you for sharing your thoughts Ed!

      Did it change the way you saw the world we live in?

  5. The present use of Coordinated Universal Time(UTC) at the time of the Apollo 11 landing on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC vs the Greenich Mean Time(GMT) indicates our present more universal view. At that time, I was in flight training as a Naval Flight Officer at NAS Pensacola, Fl (GMT 5). Vietnam had everyones attention. The thought of Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin using their skills in a peaceful scientifically oriented manner was refreshing in the context of our preparing to go to war. It was a time of great optimism despite the war. An engineer could do anything with a slide rule, pencil and paper as evidenced by the moon landing..

  6. My apollo-gies. 😉 I’m a bit late posting this.

    I grew up in the late 50s and 60s — I was in high school during Apollo 11 (and to this day grateful Apollo 11 was timed during mid summer vacation).

    As far as I can recall, I was born a space geek. There was no moment or event that influenced my interest in space. I was always interested in space and the space program. When I was barely 5 years old, I’d been “released” from the hospital. My mother took me to a toy store to pick something out. I pointed to a Revell XSL-01 Moon Rocket model kit, high on the shelf above the cashier’s counter. (This one: ) My mom squirmed about the price ($1.98). The gentleman behind the counter tried to convince me this was not a toy, not intended for young children. But my heart was set on this model. The reason: it was not some junky toy rocket with wheels and that made sparks when you rolled it. What mattered to me was, THIS was a serious rocket — it could be a REAL rocket someday. I remember watching my dad build it for me, mesmerized. I took it with me every time I went back to the hospital, keeping it under my bed.

    A few months later, I swear I remember seeing my dad’s New York Times on the coffee table, with a diagram of the Earth with a circle around it —I’m pretty sure that was Sputnik’s orbit.

    A few years after that, we’d moved upstate. One day Sr. Bernadette wheeled in a TV so we could watch Alan Shepard (the same TV our class watched the Pirates-Yankees World Series on, if I wasn’t mistaken—God bless those nuns). I can tell you where I was watching TV for the next few Mercury launches, too. Once schools stopped bringing in TVs for these things, I developed a strange illness that would reappear coincidentally, keeping me out of school, every time NASA was launching astronauts into space. I was so sick those days, all I could do was watch the launch coverage on TV. That is, until I got shipped out to Tucson for my allergies, where, in boarding school, I didn’t have access to a TV. That was horrifying. I remember being emotionally in knots the morning of the Apollo 8 launch. This was not just our first mission to go beyond Earth orbit, or even our first time orbiting the Moon. This was also the first time we’d put a crew atop a Saturn V, which we hadn’t flown very often by then. And here I couldn’t watch it. I was flying home for Christmas vacation. There was one thing, however, I was able to take some solace in — knowing that, just as my 727 lifted off from O’Hare airport, looking out my window to the southeast, 1000 miles beyond the curve of the Earth, if they were on time, picturing in my head, Apollo 8 was also lifting off that very same moment. It turned out they were on time. And for that brief time, we both climbed into the sky together above the US that morning.

    Apollo 11, yes, I watched every hour it was on TV, even the coverage in the weeks leading up to the launch. I was in my room for the landing, by myself, with a small black and white TV, recording the audio on a small reel to reel tape recorder. As they got closer and closer, running out of fuel, I was like Charlie Duke, the capcom during the landing, when Buzz Aldrin said, “Contact light … okay engine stop.” If you ever see a video of Charlie Duke right as they finally touched down, he collapses momentarily, letting go of all the tension, for just an instant. I’m pretty sure I did that too.

    Then came the next crisis — would they or wouldn’t set foot on the Moon later that day, or wait until after midnight (EDT), so that the “one small step” would occur July 21? It mattered to my family — July 20 was my sister’s birthday. Thankfully, they decided to cancel the planned four-hour rest and stepped out onto the Moon on July 20 after all. And for that, my whole family, myself included, all 10 of us, crowded into the den where our family TV was. And, I, too, took pictures of the TV screen. (I’d be happy to have you post them here, too – just tell me how to do that. Alas, I also caught the dreaded “transmission bars” that made TVs back then appear to flicker when the shutter speed differed from the speed TV images refreshed. It wasn’t until NBC’s David Brinkley took a moment during their Apollo 15 coverage to explain to viewers taking pictures of their home screens how to properly adjust their camera’s settings to avoid them.)

    So what about the rest of the summer? My older brother went to Woodstock. I was just on the other side of being too young. But I did convince my dad to take me and my younger brother to see the Apollo 11 ticker tape parade in Manhattan. It felt like just as many people as Woodstock. I also started a water color painting of the “one small step,” once the photos taken during the moonwalk started appearing in Look and Life magazines. (I can send you a not-so-great black and white photo of it from my high school yearbook, to post here too if you’d like.)

    Over the years since then, I got to meet all three Apollo 11 crew members. I even got Neil Armstrong to smile. He — big surprise — showed up where I worked in Manhattan the first day of work 1984. I went down to the lobby where he was, hoping to get an autograph. My turn finally came and I asked if he could sign my company note paper (it was all I had) — twice. His expression turned serious — and hesitant. I knew immediately what he was thinking. It was known he was never comfortable with his celebrity and was even less comfortable with people selling his autograph. I thought to myself, “Uh oh… he thinks I plan to sell the second one.” I also knew he saw himself, more than anything else, as an engineer. So I told him, quite truthfully, who I wanted to give the second signature too. “It’s for my sister… she’s an engineer.” He broke into a smile and quickly signed it twice.

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