Born: 5 August 1930
Birth Place: Auglaize County, Ohio
Born on his grandparents’ farm in Auglaize County, Ohio, Neil Armstrong was the eldest of three children. His family moved several times before settling in Wapakoneta when Neil was 13. He had been interested in airplanes since the age of 6 when he took his first flight in a Ford Tri-Motor. He undertook all sorts of jobs in the town and at the local airport to scrape together the money for flying lessons. He received his pilot’s licence on his 16th birthday.
Following graduation from Blame High School in 1947 he entered Purdue University with a US Navy scholarship. Although he had started work on an aeronautical engineering degree he was called up for active service in 1949. He was awarded his jet wings at Pensacola Naval Air Station, in Florida in 1950. He was then sent to Korea and flew 78 combat missions from the USS Essex in Navy Grumman F9F Panthers He received the Air Medal and two Gold Stars.
Before the war was over he returned to university to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. Later he obtained a Masters Degree in Aero Space Engineering from the University of Southern California.
Upon leaving military service Armstrong became a civilian test pilot for NACA (later renamed NASA). Amongst other test programmes perhaps his involvement with the North American X-15 stands out. On 30 November 1960 Armstrong made his first flight in the rocket propelled aircraft. He made a total of seven flights in X-15s reaching an altitude of 63,245m (207,500 ft) and a Mach number of 5.74 (6410km/h-3989mph). He left the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center with a total of 2450 flying hours in more than 50 aircraft types.
In 1962, while serving as a test pilot, he was chosen to be a member of the astronaut corps. His first space flight occurred in March 1966 aboard Gemini 8 when he served as command pilot.
In July of 1969, Neil Armstrong was the commander of Apollo 11, America’s first attempt to land a manned vehicle on the Moon. On 20 July 1969 Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin Aldrin successfully touched down on the lunar surface; Michael Collins remained with the orbiter. As Armstrong stepped off the ladder and became the first person to touch the Moon’s surface, he said “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind”. He and Aldrin remained on the Moon’s surface for 2.5 hours. Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his accomplishments and his contributions to the space programme.
He became Deputy Association Administrator for Aeronautics at NASA’s, Headquarters Office of Advanced Research and Technology in 1970 but in 1971 he resigned from NASA. From 1971 to 1979 he was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He currently lives quietly on his farm in Lebanon, Ohio.
That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.
Words said when he first stepped onto the moon. (20 July 1969) In the actual sound recordings he apparently says: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” which is generally considered an error on his part. Some have disputed this and Armstrong has said he did say “a man” but that it was inaudible.
Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed. Apollo 11 20 July 1969
I believe that the Good Lord gave us a finite number of heartbeats and I’m damned if I’m going to use up mine running up and down a street.
I put up my thumb and it blotted out the planet Earth.
It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.