It is a fair question to ask why the first landing by humans on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969 is celebrated on a Web site focused on aviation activities in Tucson, AZ between 1925 and 1936.
The answer is fundamental and simple. To wit, the second person to set foot on the Moon, E.E. "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr., is the son of our Register pilot E.E. Aldrin, Sr. who landed at Tucson Monday August 9, 1926 at 11:00 AM.
Most of us who were alive and aware in 1969 know exactly where we were and what we were doing when the first humans placed themselves on the Moon on July 20th. I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois sitting in my car at the Champaign-Urbana airport waiting for a flight to arrive. I had my car (AM) radio on and heard of the touchdown on the Moon at about quarter after three that afternoon. My personal radio and TV were on constantly over the next 24 hours. I never saw Walter Cronkite so gleeful. (Moments after I wrote the last sentence, I learned that Walter Cronkite passed away.)
Another important reason for celebrating the anniversay is the two photographs below. Your Webmaster took these photos in real time from his impecunius student-quality black & white TV. I've been carrying them around for years, and now I actually have a relevant venue for their display!
The first one shows Neil Armstrong (born August 5, 1930) on the moon just after saying, "That's one small step...." There are few photos on Earth that are so rich in philosophical context.
Neil Armstrong Setting Foot on the Moon, July 20, 1969
Below, Buzz Aldrin (born January 20, 1930) on the Moon, facing the American flag erected soon after arrival to commemorate the landing. Aldrin watched the flag blow down during departure, a victim of rocket exhaust.
Buzz Aldrin On the Moon, July 20, 1969 (Source: Webmaster)
Details of the lunar mission and landing are tabulated as follows. Central Daylight Time was in effect where I was in Urbana, Illinois at the time.
|July 16, 1969
||13:32:00 Zulu; 08:32:00AM CDT
||Launch of Apollo XI Mission
|July 20, 1969
||20:17:40 Zulu; 03:17:40PM CDT
||Touchdown on the Moon
|July 20, 1969
||02:56:00 Zulu; 09:56:00PM CDT
||First Step on the Moon
|July 24, 1969
||16:50:35 Zulu; 11:50:35AM CDT
||Splashdown on Earth
More broadly, it is not too far a stretch to say that this lunar mission, just 66 years after the Wright Brothers' first flight, would not have been possible without the astronauts, engineers and technical innovators being able to stand on the shoulders of their fellow aviators and the people in the aviation industries who preceded them in this feat.
To that point, it should be clear if you've spent any time at all on dmairfield.org, ALL of our pilots who passed through Tucson and signed the Register, as well as the technologies they flew or had a hand in developing, set foot or touched wheels on the moon with Armstrong and Aldrin that day, and had a hand in some small way in every other mission to space.
UPLOADED: 07/08/09 REVISED: