I hope you watched the CBS special on Apollo 11 on July 16, the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Saturn V to the moon and landing of Eagle on the moon’s surface on July 20. Those ’60s were a special time, realizing President Kennedy’s dream of putting a man on the moon.
I was lucky to be stationed at Patrick Air Force Base during that time. One of my jobs was to take people from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to the Cape to see the launch pads and all the surrounding buildings to aid them in their work. After we finished with the “formal” stuff, I would ask them if they wanted to feel insignificant. “What do you mean, LT?” they always asked. “That is not what I asked you. Do you want to feel insignificant?” “Yes,” they answered.
So, I would drive out to the NASA area and toward the Vertical Assembly Building. How far away are we from the VAB? Ten miles. We’d drive those 10 and the only thing that happened was the VAB just got bigger! They never were even close because they couldn’t fathom the size of the VAB. It can hold four Saturn V rockets simultaneously. Then I drove out to Pad 39A and into the flame bucket. Sometimes the flame deflector was in there, most times not. I’d stop in the middle and we would all get out of the car. They were amazed at its size! And you felt just like an ant with the ceiling, sides and the exhaust openings on two sides so far away! Your voice would not carry at all and it actually seemed like you were whispering when you talked in a normal voice.
Heady times, those, with all the NASA and military missile launches. Saw many a launch. Take a trip to the Cape, go to the museum where NASA has a complete, full size Saturn V in a horizontal position, and watch a launch for something you won’t ever forget. Look out Mars, here we come!
Bob Bachelor, Valparaiso