Like many other bloggers, I’m just going to offer my thoughts on the passing of Neil Armstrong.
The picture everybody has seen over the past few days.
I like to call it, “A man happy at work.”
He hated to be called a hero – he was humble.
He flew the X-15, a rocket plane dropped from flying bomber. I remember having a Scholastic Book Service book about the X-15 in grade school. The X-15 was the coolest thing in the world until the Mercury program came along.
He was a Naval Aviator, but after three years and the rank of ensign, he moved to NACA, the predecessor to NASA.
He flew in the Gemini program with David Scott. They performed the first space docking with another spacecraft, an Agena test vehicle. This was a critical capability that would be used as part of the Apollo spacecraft on its way to the moon. He was the first American civilian in orbit.
NASA had prepared charts of the moon – laid out in a manner similar to the charts pilots use on earth for the approach to an airport. Neil was supposed to “fly the pattern” with Eagle but there was an obstruction in the way, so he had to alter the approach. It was some impressive flying and almost used up all his fuel. Nobody noticed because they were so focused on the destination. He didn’t seem to mind.
Years later with computerized enhancement, it was decided that in fact he probably did say, “One small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind.” (We ham radio operators understand signal drop out – we call it “QSB”.)
Neil, I’m sure you’ll make your final journey as successfully as your others. Godspeed.