Good Gosh!

June 19, 2019

Can it really be true? In less than one month, on July 16, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of man’s first landing on the Moon!

Fifty years!

Many of us remember that date with pure awe in our hearts and minds. In fact, we remember the Russian Sputnik that started the Space Race in the first place.

I remember driving from Atlanta to Griffin, GA, staring up at the Moon and trying to imagine that mankind was there.

Years later, I moved to Huntsville, AL, where the renowned Wernher von Braun did his stupendous work. I got there too late to meet him, but am proud to say I was there the night he was inducted—posthumously—into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. Before the induction, I called Walt Wiesman, one of his original German team members, to ask him for the correct way to pronounce von Braun’s name. He said, “Ralph, with the local southern accent, the closest you can come is von Brown.”

People who lived in Huntsville, AL, in the 1960s had a special opportunity to see the Space Race in action. Even years later we had an enlightened view. Hanging on the wall behind my desk is a clip-on badge identifying me as a guest at a Shuttle launching which was demonstrably breathtaking. The noise alone shook my pants legs as the Shuttle roared into space. WOW!

Another still cherished event: I was flying a Piper Seneca to Vero Beach, FL, with three other pilots. We knew that the Shuttle would launch in a very few days from the pad at Kennedy Space Center. We asked air traffic control if they could direct us as close to the launch pad as possible. Folks, they flew us straight over the Shuttle at low altitude and let us circle it (This was many years before 9/11.)! Amazing.

Man on the Moon. It still seems awesome to those of us who remember! I’m glad to be one of them.

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