16
Jul
09

40th anniversary of Apollo 11


This is one of the biggest days in history, and it is a time I think of often.  I was 7 years old in 1969 and lived in a little trailer off of the side of the freeway in Black Canyon City, Arizona.  My dad was a Highway Patrolman, and this was one of two trailers and two homes that housed the patrolmen and their families.  Even though the houses are gone my trailer is still there to this day.  As a kid, this was a really big event for me.  I didn’t leave the TV for a good two weeks, I watched every minute as Walter Cronkite would talk us through the entire process of the launch and landing with some awesome models and incredible art work.  WOW MODELS AND SPACE ART!!!!  I guess my future was pegged and laid out for me in just a couple of weeks’ time.  I haven’t researched who built the models nor have I confirmed the art, but I would swear it was all Ralph McQuarrie and Robert McCall.  Anyway, I would just watch with amazement as ol’ Walter would talk away in complete professional fandom.  He would walk you through the mission and tell you all there was to know about the astronauts who were household names in our house, and we knew every inch of the Saturn V rocket right down to all it’s tiniest of specifications.  I started drawing pictures majorly during this time and compiled the whole mission in little scribbles.  Once the Apollo lifted off,  it was unbelievable to watch that beautiful rocket soar by a wide angle camera mounted on the side of the launch tower.  Another camera recorded the aft view as the rocket went into orbit, and it was so awesome  to see the stages and coupler rings disengage and tumble slowly back to Earth.  It was an anxious wait for the ships to get to the moon; a couple of days to a kid was like 6 weeks. I don’t think I ever went to bed, and I am sure  all the rest of the guys and gals from the Star Trek art department were doing the same.  I would have loved to have known Doug, Mike and Denise, Jim Van Over, Rick, Andy, Anthony and the rest of the gang back then!!!  Can you imagine Doug in his little Jammies running around the house screaming as a kid back then…I might have to draw some of these scenarios just for the heck of it, HAAA!  The landing took place perfectly, Neil Armstrong was the first man down the ladder and his words will echo on forever, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Neil and Buzz started walking around on the moon setting up equipment and  placing an American flag on the surface, while Mike Collins orbited the moon waiting to pick up the moon walkers after the mission was over.  All the footage on the moon had these little faint crosses on the screen, some type of registration I guess but I had to put those marks on everything I was drawing for years to come.  The lift off from the moon through that exterior camera was breathtaking,  and all the little pieces of golden debris flying all over the screen inspired the entire VFX community for sure.  The reentry and splashdown brought the mission back into full color, and I was so sad that it was over.  Even as a youth, you felt like you were a part of the mission, as I am certain everyone that saw this amazing adventure was, too.  It was a different time, and nothing was hurried to the point of becoming a blur; the public’s minds were not exposed to the rapid MTV style of needing 4000 edits every three minutes to tell a story.  The whole event from the news end to the NASA side of things was so beautifully merged with great talent and exquisite professionalism.  This was an unbelievable time, and I’m so glad I had a few moments to relive and share it with you today.   Happy 40th, Apollo 11.  Below is a quick photo album to relive some of those awesome moments and images from long ago.  Enjoy.

Walter sitting in probably the coolest seat outside of being in the capsule itself

Walter sitting in probably the coolest seat outside of being in the capsule itself

check out the size of Walter's toys!!!

check out the size of Walter's toys!!!

and there he is telling you history as it was happening!!

and there he is telling you history as it was happening!!

the mighty Saturn V at lift off.

the mighty Saturn V at lift off.

WOW look at her go!

WOW look at her go!

the first stage couple tumbles away

the first stage couple tumbles away

the Lunar Module in all it's glory, I so remember that vividly that glare from those shots and to this day I still put it in all my space craft drawings.

the Lunar Module in all it's glory, I so remember vividly that glare from those shots and to this day I still put it in all my space craft drawings.

foot print on the moon

footprint on the moon

Neil Armstrong shoots a shot of Buzz

Neil Armstrong shoots a shot of Buzz

Michael Collin's orbits the moon in the command vehicle

Michael Collins orbits the moon in the command vehicle

I so want to go to the moon!!!

I so want to go to the moon!!!

a picture of Buzz

a picture of Buzz

setting one of the many experiments

setting one of the many experiments

the LEM back in orbit leaving the landing platform behind

the LEM back in orbit leaving the landing platform behind

almost home

almost home

hey what happened to the beautiful chromed surface

hey what happened to the beautiful chromed surface

back on Earth and on board the USS Hornet

back on Earth and on board the USS Hornet

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldren

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin

no words can describe!!!

no words can describe!!!

the mission patch

the mission patch

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30 Responses to “40th anniversary of Apollo 11”


  1. July 16, 2009 at 8:10 am

    I remember being glued to the TV as well. Walter C. was the only guy anyone wanted to watch as he knew how to engage the whole audience. I remember how awesome it was – from launch to Neil to the splash down. I know that’s when I got ‘infected’ with the space bug and am still awed today with both real and imagined journeys into space.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  2. 3 Tallguy
    July 16, 2009 at 8:20 am

    I’m glad someone noted this. My office is slowly being decked out for next Monday / Tuesday. I need to go get banners this weekend.

    1969 – Apollo 11, the 747, and ME! :) I apparently watched the landing from my swing hanging in one of the doorways. (Hey, I remember when Skylab took off – does that count?)

    I remember the “older folks” talking about this day on the 30th anniversary. One guy told me how he rode his bicycle on the highway in Baltimore – there was no one who wasn’t glued to the TV. (The same thing happens in Ohio during the Superbowl.)

    It’s funny, my grandmother has almost no recollection of the moon landing but she remembers the whole family sitting around the TV on Christmas eve in 1968 listening to the transmissions from Apollo 8 like it was yesterday.

    We choose to go to the moon, indeed.

    (John, I thought of you the other day when we drove through Black Canyon on the way to Flagstaff.)

    • 4 johneaves
      July 16, 2009 at 8:34 am

      WOW!!!! heading north on I-17 look to the right immediately after you go under the rock springs overpass exit and you’ll see my trailer! HAA! great story from your past!

    • 5 DeanneM
      July 16, 2009 at 8:32 pm

      Then you come upon the next exit and look to your left…towards the old Dog Track building crumbling away. I lived just beyond that. And that’s pretty much the tour of Black Canyon City. :)

  3. 6 BB43MAN
    July 16, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I remember it like it was yesterday, me sitting with my father and watching the moon landing on the old black and white TV in our ratty living room! I also remember watching Apollo 17 blast off in the nightime.

    I absolutely LOVE the Apollo missions and the entire Apollo program. I’ve also got some connections with the Kansas Cosmosphere so, I’ve been up close to quite a few artifacts. I would go to the moon in a New York Minute!!!

    Thanks for posting this. I was beginning to wonder if anyone else but me remembered this exceptional moment in history.

  4. 8 Kevin H. Martin
    July 16, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Yeah, McQuarrie did the Apollo artwork, I’ve seen that mentioned in a number of articles.

    Something funny is that they had to try to recreate the apollo CBS animation of the LEM for FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, but I can’t remember which company ended up doing it. Wonder if they shot it on twos?

  5. July 16, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I wanted Walter’s toys! I also remember seeing Arthur C Clarke on one of the networks. I had no idea who he was at the time, of course!

    Those truly were amazing times. From the Earth to the Moon captures a piece of that feeling. Nothing like it will ever come again.

    • 11 johneaves
      July 16, 2009 at 10:24 am

      I wonder if Walter’s toys are on display somewhere at the cape!!! I have to get that series,,, mike and denise would play an episode almost everyday at work but where I sat I could only hear the audio

      • 12 Kevin H. Martin
        July 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

        There are two episodes that I think, when people look back at their inspiration, will be very fondly remembered: the one about the LEM (ep 4) and the one about lunar archaeology (ep 10.)

        Those two really showed that science was something that required brains and enthusiasm, and I have a feeling people might have wound up making career choices after seeing them.

        It is probably one of the last big miniature-heavy shows … Tony Cutrono shot a miniature unit for something like 8 months, and the stuff just looks great (sometimes a little too good, as the cg moonscapes aren’t always as snappy.)

        For years I’ve wished Hanks would do a quasi-extension of FROM THE EARTH … a fictitious account of the 21st Century of space exploration in miniseries form, a kind of riff on HOW THE SOLAR SYSTEM WAS WON, to crib from a working title for 2001. Maybe we’ll wind up getting something like it… I read a few months ago that Hanks was going to do a feature film based on the wonderful MAJOR MATT MASON toy line I grew up with, and that would be a terrific alternate history if you change history post APOLLO XI toward something that looked like the future envisioned in POPULAR MECHANICS and POPULAR SCIENCE (you know … the REAL future, not the one I’m stuck in.)

      • 13 johneaves
        July 16, 2009 at 11:05 am

        I would die if they made a movie based on Major Matt mason!!!! man you have really got me wanting to watch the series!!! I remember visiting Mike Possert over at DD when they were making the models in a tent outside,,, Haaa that was the model shop then,,, POOR ol sods shoved outside like trash! the miniatures were incredible and even more fun is if your on the Back lot at universal there is a big Quantset hut set storage building across from the back lot cafe, and on the second floor are the capsule miniatures from Apollo 13 as well as the full sized sets of the capsule and lander,,,I had lunch many a time in those two sets,

  6. 14 B.J.
    July 16, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Sadly, I’m not old enough to have seen the original broadcast. But I live in Huntsville, AL, and I never get tired of driving past the Saturn V rocket and the full-size upright replica every day!

  7. 16 Richard Knapp
    July 16, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I remember that day like it was yesterday. The night of the 20th, when Neil first set foot upon the moon, my father ran outside and was setting off sky rockets in the back yard. You could hear fire alarms going off and church bells ringing all over town. That was a great day!

  8. 18 Richard Knapp
    July 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Remembering how it all began:

    “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” – JFK

    I still can’t read those words without getting choked up.

  9. 21 Larry
    July 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Great site, keep it coming

  10. July 16, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Heh…Yeah, I drove past that Saturn V mockup in Huntsville just a month or two ago. It’s still awesome! I was 7 as well, and I remember being woke up by my parents as we were at my Grandmother’s house for the Moon Landing. (I need to find out when this was EST…it was past bedtime, that’s all I remember) So, me, my brother and sister were all sitting in front of Grandma’s COLOR TV set watching the terrible video from the Moon of our first steps. It was awesome, but we were tired and went back to bed soon afterward.

    What’s neat is I have the Apollo 12 Command Module about a mile from my house! Of course, living in Hampton, Virginia and NASA Langley makes it easier that way.

    And I always wondered why they kept insisting that the ‘SIMULATION’ was at the bottom of all the animations they showed us…couldn’t we figure it out?

  11. 23 Matt Boardman
    July 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I’ve been watching “From the Earth to the Moon” for the first time this week and just happened to watch the episode of when the landing happened. I’m not going to lie, I got choked up! This event represented how truly amazing human beings can be if they set their minds to it. I was born 20 years after this event happened, but it has always inspired me. I’ve always been sad that we haven’t gone back since Apollo 17.

    • 24 DeanneM
      July 16, 2009 at 8:40 pm

      You were born in ’89? You’re 20 years old? C’mon I thought you were at a least a few years older than that!

      • 25 Matt Boardman
        July 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

        Holy shamolly! LOL Strike that 10 years..10 years…not 20. LOL! I turned 30 in May this year. Whew! Hahaha! If only I was 20 again! :D

      • 26 Matt Wright
        July 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm

        Okay that makes more sense, I had a hunch you were about my age… (I’m 27).

  12. 27 DeanneM
    July 16, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Somehow I missed this post earlier…I think it was just because I was so excited about Day 2 of the Scimitar! :)

    I mentioned on Doug’s blog that, to my dying shame, I missed a lot of world events in my youth. I believe my mother tried to shelter me somewhat from the war and such; actually I don’t recall her ever encouraging me to learn about world or local news, and I was only 5. I actually *missed* all the hype!! I would have been a different person from the get go, I’m sure.

    I love your story, John, about sketching all of the mission…just fantastic! I’m going to be watching From the Earth to the Moon next week. It would have been very cool if we could get a gang of folks, like Matt above, to watch it together!

    Some of these photos, though great icons all, are just begging for a caption contest. :)

  13. July 20, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Ah, so that’s where the lens flare in your drawings comes from. I always notice that and wonder. I think it’s a nice touch and I’ve added it to some of my recent art as well.

    I must admit I’m jealous that I wasn’t even born when the moon landings happened, so I never got to experience the excitement that you and other describe. It sounds like such an incredible time to be alive. Still, I’m holding out hope that one day my generation will get to see the first man on Mars. Might have to wait till I’m grey and old, though. :)

  14. 29 NoelOMeara Ireland
    August 1, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I remember watching man first setting foot on the moon on that faithfull morning in 1969.
    I was sitting in the kitchen watching the events unfold on our Philips black and white TV, and called out to my dad who was in bed at the time to come and take a look at the man walking on the moon,he stared at the images on the screen in amazement,I was only 15 years of age then and will never forget this great event in mankinds journey for knowledge.

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