Do you remember where you were when Apollo 11 landed on the moon? I remember bits and pieces but I remember more about how significant my Dad thought it was and his experiences with aeronautics.
My father’s fascination with flight and rockets began early in his life. Throughout his life his interest in flight has been strong. He was heavily involved in the Civil Air Patrol, served in the Air Force, got his private pilot’s license, owned a model airplane business, and as a hobby and part time job he was an instrument-rated flight instructor teaching others to fly.
When my Dad was in junior high school he and some of his friends designed and built rockets as a hobby. They would take their rockets out to a field and set them off and using an 8mm movie camera would film their experiments. My Dad and two of his friends decided to enter the state science fair and on March 29, 1956 the local paper published an article about their 45-pound rocket. I think it’s pretty interesting; click the image to read it. By the way, they placed 3rd.
I remember as a child watching those 8mm films that Dad and his friends made and hearing the excitement in my Dad’s voice as he explained, during the silent movie, what all they did. It was obvious he loved it. Here’s a silent clip of them experimenting with one of their rockets.
When I was in junior high school and preparing a project for school, I vividly remember my Dad showing me all the posters they used in the science fair and being amazed at how meticulous their experiments, notes, and drawings were. For another science fair Dad designed a wind tunnel, which was also very thorough and successful. So, it’s no surprise that in my house, all of our attention was given to the news and broadcasts for rockets and just about anything aeronautical.
Apollo 11 landed forty years ago, on July 20, 1969 when I lived in Long Beach, California and was a month shy of my 9th birthday. On that day, I remember Dad setting up his 35mm camera on a tripod in front of our console television to take photos of the live broadcast. Oh, by the way, my Dad really enjoyed photography and had his own darkroom for a time. As my family sat in our den, we watched and photographed the exciting events as the first man walked on the moon! At the time, I knew it was important but I really took that kind of exploration for granted. Here are some of the photos my Dad took and you can see the outline of our TV and even the channel number is visible in one of them.
Within the next few months my Dad bought me a commemorative 45 rpm record of that monumental event. At the time I remember thinking “now why would I want this?” Today, it is still in its original sleeve and I’ve listened to it several times over the years; I now recognize the significance of Apollo 11 not only to the world but to my Dad.
The record was issued September 24, 1969 and I found a little bit about the record here. Apparently, many schools gave copies to students and one those students has made a video of it so that others can see and hear it.