Commander Neil Armstrong
Sadly today, we have lost a giant in Aeronautical History. The very first human to ever step foot on another heavenly body has passed away, taking one last giant leap to the heavens.
Neil A. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. He began his NASA career in Ohio.
After serving as a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1955. His first assignment was with the NACA Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn) in Cleveland. Over the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Dryden pilot Neil Armstrong is seen here next to the X-15 ship. 1 January 1960
As a research pilot at NASA’s Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., he was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft, including the well known, 4000-mph X-15. He has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders.
Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962. He was assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission. Gemini 8 was launched on March 16, 1966, and Armstrong performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space.
Armstrong subsequently held the position of Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. In this position, he was responsible for the coordination and management of overall NASA research and technology work related to aeronautics.
He was Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati between 1971-1979. During the years 1982-1992, Armstrong was chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., Charlottesville, Va.
He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. He holds honorary doctorates from a number of universities.
Armstrong is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Royal Aeronautical Society; Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the International Astronautics Federation.
He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco. He served as a member of the National Commission on Space (1985-1986), as Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident (1986), and as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Peace Corps (1971-1973).
Armstrong has been decorated by 17 countries. He is the recipient of many special honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the Congressional Space Medal of Honor; the Explorers Club Medal; the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy; the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; the Harmon International Aviation Trophy; the Royal Geographic Society’s Gold Medal; the Federation Aeronautique Internationale’s Gold Space Medal; the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award; the Robert J. Collier Trophy; the AIAA Astronautics Award; the Octave Chanute Award; and the John J. Montgomery Award.
Armstrong was approached by political groups from both ends of the spectrum after his aeronautical career. Unlike former astronauts and United States Senators John Glenn and Harrison Schmitt, Armstrong declined all offers. Personally, he was in favor of states’ rights and against the United States acting as the “world’s policeman”. In 1971, Armstrong was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point for his service to the country.
In 1972, Armstrong was welcomed into the town of Langholm, Scotland, the traditional seat of Clan Armstrong; he was made the first freeman of the burgh, and happily declared the town his home. The Justice of the Peace read from an unrepealed 400-year-old law that required him to hang any Armstrong found in the town.
In the fall of 1979, Armstrong was working at his farm near Lebanon, Ohio. As he jumped off of the back of his grain truck, his wedding ring caught in the wheel, tearing off the tip of his ring finger; he collected the severed digit, packed it in ice, and had it reattached by microsurgeons at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. In February 1991, he suffered a mild heart attack while skiing with friends at Aspen, Colorado, a year after his father had died, and nine months after the death of his mother.
Armstrong’s first wife, Janet, divorced him in 1994, after 38 years of marriage. He had met his second wife, Carol Held Knight, in 1992 at a golf tournament, where they were seated together at the breakfast table. She said little to Armstrong, but two weeks later she received a call from him asking what she was doing—she replied she was cutting down a cherry tree; 35 minutes later Armstrong was at her house to help out. They were married on June 12, 1994, in Ohio, and then had a second ceremony, at San Ysidro Ranch, in California. He lived in Indian Hill, Ohio.
Quincy Jones presents platinum copies of “Fly Me to the Moon”) to Neil Armstrong (right) and Senator John Glenn, September 24, 2008.
After 1994, Armstrong refused all requests for autographs because he found that his signed items were selling for large amounts of money and that many forgeries are in circulation; any requests sent to him received a form letter in reply saying that he has stopped signing. Although his no-autograph policy was well known, author Andrew Smith observed people at the 2002 Reno Air Races still trying to get signatures, with one person even claiming, “If you shove something close enough in front of his face, he’ll sign.” He also stopped sending out congratulatory letters to new Eagle Scouts, because he believed these letters should come from people who know the Scouts personally.
Use of Armstrong’s name, image, and famous quote caused him problems over the years. MTV wanted to use his quote for its now-famous ident depicting the Apollo 11 landing when it launched in 1981, but he declined. Armstrong sued Hallmark Cards in 1994 after they used his name and a recording of “one small step” quote in a Christmas ornament without permission. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money which Armstrong donated to Purdue.
In May 2005, Armstrong became involved in an unusual legal battle with his barber of 20 years, Marx Sizemore. After cutting Armstrong’s hair, Sizemore sold some of it to a collector for $3,000 without Armstrong’s knowledge or permission. Armstrong threatened legal action unless the barber returned the hair or donated the proceeds to a charity of Armstrong’s choosing. Sizemore, unable to get the hair back, decided to donate the proceeds to the charity of Armstrong’s choice.
Today, I personally would like to celebrate the life of one of mankind’s greatest examples of Integrity, Bravery, and Humanitarianism. His achievements should motivate the children of tomorrow for generations to come and his Epic words will ring out in to the heavens and in our hearts forever. “One Small Step for Man… One Giant Leap for Mankind.” God Speed Neil Armstrong. You will live on in Man Kind for eternity…
By: Race Hobbs