Apollo 11: This past week marked the 50th anniversary. Doctor Aviation posted a daily blog recounting each day of the voyage. This blog will cover what transpired in the next sixty days.
The USS Hornet to Houston
The Apollo 11 crew splashed down 210 nautical miles south of Johnston Atoll. The astronauts actually splashed down 215 nautical miles northeast of their original landing site. This was due to a brave young Air Force captain, Hank Brandi, who noted a strong storm and winds bearing down on the intended landing site. Brandi feared that the parachutes floating the astronauts down would be ripped to shreds. This would cause a terrible crash of the capsule. Brandi had made the forecast based on top secret satellite images. He decided to act which led to a change of events culminating in the safe return of the three astronauts.
There was a fear of contamination by germs from the moon. Therefore, the astronauts donned biological isolation garments (BIGs) while still in the capsule. They were winched to a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopter for the ride back to the USS Hornet, which was about 10 miles away.
The three immediately walked into the Mobile Quarantine Faculty (MQF) where they spend the next 21 days. President Nixon greeted them on the Hornet. The USS Hornet sailed to Pearl Harbor. At this point the MQF was put on a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter and flown to Houston. Once they arrived at the Manned Space Center they were taken to an area known as the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. The date was July 28, four days after the splashdown.
I Love a Parade
The astronauts were cleared out of the MQF just before August 13, 1969. They immediately went to New York City where they were treated to a ticker tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes. Six million people came to watch. What a day it was, the evening consisted of state dinner with President Nixon, members of Congress, 44 Governors and the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in Los Angeles.
World Wind Tour
On September 29, 1969 the astronauts and their wives (as well as a few NASA officials) started a round the world tour. They met Queen Elizabeth as well as many world leaders. All told, they visited 22 countries in 38 days. They flew in style in the back up Air Force 1 aircraft. The astronauts were arguable the best-known humans on earth that Fall.
Next Doctor Aviation will examine what became of the astronauts after their fame.