Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

26 August 2012

Clear Skies, Neil.

I also want to say something about the recent passing of Neil Alden Armstrong, He Who Walked On The Moon First.
He was 82, which is, in my opinion, a respectable age and an age on which one is expecting the end to be near. All of the still living Apollo moonwalkers are about 80. In a year or ten, fifteen, there will be no one left of them.

Armstrong had a very amazing life, to say the least. Not everyone on this planet has been privileged to have his name add to the pages in the history books with an event as crucial and important as being the first man to set foot on another heavenly body. Not everybody can say they flew the fastest manned rocketplane in the world 7 times,  went into space twice and walked on the moon.
Some people on the internet have called him "badass" and "the best astronaut" and equally misplaced qualifications. I don't think Armstrong would describe himself as badass at all, let alone he'd ever consider himself to be the best astronaut.

Armstrong in the commander's seat for Gemini VIII in 1966, awaiting liftoff.
What Armstrong was in my opinion?  Not the stick and rudder man like Yeager. Not the fun-driven hot dog pilot like Pete Conrad, Wally Schirra or Gordo Cooper. Not the religious experience on the moon having man like Jim Irwin. He didn't even have the ambition to be the first, like his LMP on Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin. It just happened he was the first one assigned to get out of the LM. Because the door hinged Aldrin's way.

I read Armstrong's biography by James Hansen a couple of years ago. A big book and a worthy read. It describes Armstrong as an almost boring man, reluctant in his status of hero, reclusive and a man of just a few words. He had to face up to the fact he'd become and always will be The First Man Who Walked On the Moon. He very quickly grew tired of being asked the same questions over and over again, signing autographs and being displayed as a hero. It just was not what it was all about, in his eyes.
He was in his element when he flew and when he taught what he knew to younger people when he was teaching at Cincinnati University.
In his later days he sometimes appeared in public, speak on a congress or, even more rare, do an interview. I think he'd already said what he had to say a long time ago. And he was a man of just a few necessary words.

Neil Armstrong was a very modest and intelligent man, a skilled and calculating pilot, and above all, an engineer pur sang.
He certainly is someone who will be greatly missed, who left his mark on society forever by placing his boot in the powdery, grey soil of the lunar surface.
Clear skies, Neil Armstrong.

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