To the Moon: The cars of the Apollo 11 astronauts | Hagerty Media
It was one of those historic "Where were you when... ?" moments. Famed CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite reacted in awe and disbelief, removing his glasses much like he did when he somberly reported the death of President John F. Kennedy six years earlier. Only this time, Cronkite was smiling. https://www.hagerty.com/media/archived/cars-of-the-apollo-11-astronauts/
Great stories! A while back, my crew and I produced a short feature on the Apollo 12 crew's Corvettes and I interviewed the man who 'found' a Corvette treasure on a used car parking lot in Austin, Texas!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIabsG9L0Yw
My “Where were you when… ? was the next mid-day listening to it live by Armed Forces Radio on a scratchy pocket transistor radio. See, it was about 14 hours ahead--already the next day-- where I was across the International Time line in South Vietnam. My squad and I were filling sandbags as fast as we could to repair damage made to our bunker-home (really like a steel and sandbag doghouse) that had took some nasty mortar/rocket hits the night before. Very close to the DMZ/Ho Chi Min trail in Northern I Corp--in 101st ABN, US ARMY. We did NOT believe the story we were hearing to be nothing more than a stage production. And all of us agreed that if it "could" be so and the US was that smart then why couldn't "they" figure out how to end the dang war (maybe we said it a little stronger than that. Well when I returned home eventually--Thank God--the only car I could get rubbing my last two nickels together was a beat up 62 VW bug. Maybe the Astronauts got paid by the mile; many more than me!
I was 11 when The Apollo 11 mission took place. I was at the time a total NASA “man in space” geek of the first order! Savant might have been more appropriate. The Corvette story is a neat part of the history. What I would like to know is what is the limousine the three rode in during their NYC ticker tape parade and is that car still around? That might be an interesting story too.
The car in question was/is a Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton. Three of thee beauties were built in 1952. They were brought back to Chrysler in 1955 to be updated and a facelift to resemble the '56 Imperial. Two of the cars were given to the cities of New York and Los Angeles, the third was to have been a gift to the White House but was rejected because of the gift laws back then. Chrysler then staged the car in Detroit for use around the country. Last I knew the New York and LA cars were still owned by the respective cities - the Detroit car went to a private collector and is now at the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles. I am sure there is a lot more information on these cars 'out there' on the web.
In July 1969, my family vacationed at my aunt and uncles home in Cocoa, Fl. My uncle Maurice worked for General Electric over at the cape. The day the Saturn 5 launched, we all loaded up in my aunt Pegs 63 Olds 88 and drove over to the cape to watch. We were within a half mile from the pad. You could feel the power of the rocket as it disappeared out of sight. Very loud. I was 18 years old at the time.I’ll never forget it. I own a 68 corvette now.
Wow! Half a mile from the pad? How did you get that close? Did the overpressure make your ears bleed? The Launch Control Center, the VAB and the old Saturn V bleachers are about three miles from the pad and it was plenty loud there.
IIRC in October of 19 there was a 68 C3 listed on eBay being represented as Alan Sheppards. There was a thread on the Corvette forum about it. The seller put the opening bid at $150,000. No, it didn't sell. It was in pretty sad shape. About the same time a classic car dealer in Denver had a C3 for sale that they belonged to one of the astronauts.
I watched the moon landing on a 19inch B&W TV, in my Great Grandmother's LR at the age of 8. She had come to Okla as a child in a covered wagon, so she absolutely did not believe what was happening on the TV. My most vivid memory of it all, is my GGM yelling at everyone in the room "You're all fool's, that's just Hollywood made-up nonsense!!" This of course confused my 8yr old self, so I asked my Father if the TV was real, cause GGM says it's not, my Dad smiled & said "GGM also thinks FDR is still President" So my next question was, Who is FDR?? LOL!
1969, the moon launch. Was living at my grandma's house, along with my mom and two half-brothers. I was twelve. I watched the launch, and then they mentioned how long it would be before they reached the moon and actually landed. Could not understand why it would take so long. That big ole Saturn 5 looked SO FAST, and the moon didn't look all that far away from grandma's yard. The wait seemed forever! When the landing came, there I was, like everyone else, glued to our old black & white TV. Was awful proud of those men.
Great story so blessed were us to be alive and see this historic moment in human history the one misconception i had was i thought back then that the Astronaut's were given those cars not just a lease LOL closest I ever got to being a fly boy was I drank Tang and ended up with a C3 Corvette owned not leased.R
Had the opportunity to spend several days with Dick Gordon who flew Gemini 11 and Apollo XII in New Orleans many many years ago doing an educational exhibit for my company. I want to tell you of all the famous people I met in my life and on my wall of fame all I could do was listen when he described his life and missions. What really surprised me was as we walked the streets of New Orleans no one knew who Dick was, one of the so very few great heroes of our time and a true national treasure. What really surprised me was he sent me a small American Flag Patch a few weeks later along with his card telling me anytime I wanted to and was in CA to give him a buzz (pun intended) and while not 100% sure it may have gone to the Moon and Back. Thank you for the great article.
This is terrific, as well as the comments, so this may be a bit of a tangent: Buzz Aldrin's VW endorsement (yup, I read every word of that too) mentions their Computerized Self Analysis system checked the car's front end alignment, in 60 seconds to boot. A few minutes pestering Google turned up nothing on how that might've worked. Does anyone know anything about it?
On 20 July 1969, I was 20 days into Beast Barracks as a Plebe at West Point. Perhaps because Buzz Aldrin was an alumnus, the entire class of 1973 was marched into Thayer Hall to witness the history being made. At the time, I was mostly grateful to be at rest in an air conditioned room. Upperclassmen with boxing gloves on poles walked the aisles; any fourth classman who fell asleep was nudged on the side of the head. No thanks for "my service," incidentally, I transferred out after plebe year and an altercation with calculus!