He was a pilot’s pilot: Neil Armstrong (1930 August 5th)

NeilArmstrong.GaWy_650x400Neil 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).

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.

As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the moon and first to step on its surface.

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 was 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 was 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 was decorated by 17 countries. He was the recipient of many special honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the Congressional Gold Medal; 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 passed away on Aug. 25, 2012 following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. He was 82.

Apollo 50th Anniversary website

Last Updated: July 10, 2019  Editor: Kelly Sands


NEIL ARMSTRONG ON KRNN, 8/05:  Navy aviator, X-15 test pilot, Apollo moon astronaut, and university professor, Neil Armstrong was born on this date in 1930.  Your co-pilot seat is reserved next to the radio for our Neil Armstrong birthday playlist on Crosscurrents, 8/05 at 8 am.


Facts About Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong was an American astronaut and aeronautical engineer who was the first individual to walk on the Moon. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot and university professor. A graduate of Purdue University, he studied aeronautical engineering with his college tuition paid for by the U.S. Navy.

              . It’s said that his passion for flying began when he was just two years old, when he was taken by his father to the National Air Races, which were held in Cleveland, Ohio. This interest deepened further  when, at the age of six, he experienced his first ride on an airplane in a Ford Tri-Motor, in Warren, Ohio.

           . Armstrong started taking flying lessons at an airport located to the north of Wapakoneta in an Aeronca Champion airplane. In order to pay for the lessons, he worked a number of jobs at the airport as well as the town.

          . He got his flight certificate at the age of 16, even before he could obtain a driver’s license.

            . Armstrong became a midshipman in 1949, and a naval pilot the following year.

              . He on duty in the Korean War, flying the Grumman F9F Panther from the aircraft carrier USS Essex.

                . In September 1951, he was hit by anti-aircraft fire while making a low bombing attack, and was required to bail out.

              . After the war, he finished his bachelor’s degree at Purdue, and became a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

            . Armstrong became a skillful test pilot, flying right to the atmosphere’s edge, at 207,500 feet, or 63,198 meters, at 4,000 miles per hour, in the famous experimental rocket powered aircraft, X-15.

             . he was a participant in the U.S. Air Force’s Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs.

            . Armstrong signed up for the NASA Astronaut Corps in the second group, which was selected in 1962.

           . He made his first spaceflight as commander of Gemini 8 in March 1966, becoming NASA’s first civilian astronaut to fly in space.

            . During his Gemini 8 mission with pilot David Scott, he achieved the first docking of two spacecraft; however, the mission was aborted after Armstrong used some of his reentry control fuel to prevent a dangerous spin caused by a stuck thruster.

              . During training as commander of Apollo 11, he had to eject from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle instants before a fiery crash.

                 . In July 1969, Armstrong and Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin completed the first manned Moon landing, and spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit in the Command Module.

               . When he walked onto the lunar surface, he said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

                 . Along with Collins and Aldrin, Armstrong received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon.

               . President Jimmy Carter presented Armstrong with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and Armstrong and his former crewmates received a Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

               . After he resigned from NASA in 1971, Armstrong taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati until 1979.

            . Due to Armstrong’s knowledge of engineering, he was always quick to grasp the minute nuances of flight and could understand the characteristic in-flight properties of specific aircraft quicker than most, enhancing his abilities as a pilot.

               . Remembering the experience of the historical Apollo 11 flight lifting off, Armstrong said, “It felt like a train on a bad railroad track, shaking in every direction. And it was loud, really loud.”

              . The lunar crater Armstrong, 31 miles, or 50 kilometers, from the Apollo 11 landing site, and asteroid 6469 Armstrong are named in his honor.

              . There are more than a dozen elementary, middle and high schools named in his honor in the United States, and many places around the world have streets, buildings, schools and other places named after Armstrong or the Apollo 11 mission.

                . The Armstrong Air and Space Museum, in Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta, and the airport in New Knoxville, Ohio, where he took his first flying lessons when he was 15 years old, are named after him.

              . For many years, Armstrong turned down biography offers from authors such as Stephen Ambrose and James A. Michener, but agreed to work with James R. Hansen after reading one of Hansen’s other biographies.

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