What’s a great way to spend the day if you love books and kids? Volunteer at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum!
That’s what I did on Tuesday, April 25th. It was library day, and my day as Volunteer Reader. Christopher Moynihan, Director of Programming and Education, picked two great reads, “Eight Days Gone” and “To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space.” Both nonfiction, but so different!
Eight Days is about the Apollo moon launch in 1969. I was 10 years old when Neil and Buzz landed. It’s fun to share a story I remember, and then try to make it real for preschoolers. As a retired teacher, I love helping kids understand science words like orbit. My young audience did a great job listening and sharing. It’s amazing what they absorb!
To the Stars...is the story of Kathy Sullivan, who really did travel to the stars. Then she walked in space and co-authored this book. It was a more challenging read for my young audience. It was longer, had more real facts, and was written for older kids, but the preschoolers did a great job. They liked learning how they were like Kathy, and different. I think a few would hop aboard a plane or rocket, if they got the chance. Who knows? Maybe someday, today’s listener could be tomorrow’s astronaut.
After the books came the action part…Museum Executive Director, Chris Burton entered dressed in a spacesuit, something like this. At first the kids were shy but they got over it. They loved trying on the helmet, and their parents loved snapping pictures.
Library Day finished with a rocket craft from Kristine Spyker, library youth service director. Our young astronauts made their own spaceship, complete with crepe paper flames. Best of all, a popsicle stick turned the rocket into a puppet so kids can invent their own adventures. Finally many thanks to museum educator, Katie Meyer, who made sure everything ran smoothly, especially the thirty rockets let loose in the museum.
Please check out the Museum's Facebook post for April 25th. You can see eight pictures of Library day, and catch a video of me reading. Sorry, no sound! If you love space like I do, here are two special summer events for your calendar:
July 22-23 Summer Moon Festival- family fun with inflatables, rides, concerts, science Demonstrations, education activities, rocket launches…AND Buzz Aldrin from the 1st moon landing.
Aug. 26-27 Space Station Armstrong- Work together using recycled materials to build a kid-sized space station. You can construct the station Saturday and inhabit it Sunday.
As a writer, you use critiques and criticism to get better. As a teacher, you try to get things right, and you correct mistakes. Greg, my Armstrong museum friend and colleague, pointed out a few mistakes, and here are my corrections:
Neil never flew this plane over Korea, but he did fly it later as a test pilot for NASA. Neil flew everything from bombers to experimental rocket planes to futuristic simulators. Greg said this plane is an F5D Skylancer. I googled and discovered it was once cutting edge technology! Neil flew it low towards a marker, then rocketed up 7000 feet into the atmosphere, like 1.3 miles. He did a loop, rolled the plane upright, and finished with a smooth unpowered landing. Wow, what a ride! But, this plane led Neil to even bigger and better things. As a test pilot, he once flew 39.2 miles into our atmosphere. He didn’t make it into outer space, yet. You have to go 50 miles to get there, and Neil did!
This is the real F9F Panther. Neil flew planes like this over Korea. He didn’t fly 72 combat missions. He flew more…78. Here’s the best fact Greg gave me: In 1951 Neil flew a bombing run over North Korea and ejected because his plane was damaged. Aren’t you glad he made it back safely!
The only correction for the Gemini 8 mission is that Neil and Dave only stayed in space for 10 hours and 40 minutes. I don’t think Neil was thinking about those seats. I bet he was disappointed his 3-day ride was cut way too short.
This is Neil’s suit, but I’m sorry to tell you, it didn’t make it to the moon.
But, it really was his back-up suit, and it really was one of the three
suits made just for him. The suit you see weighed about 47 pounds,
but, when Neil was completely dressed for spacewalks, he wore 190
pounds of suit. Talk about heavy duty! With all that weight, Neil
could survive outside the space capsule for 6 hours. His back-up
life support gave him an extra 30 minutes, in case he had an emergency.
This post reminded me that it’s OK to make mistakes. It’s even better to correct them. But the best thing… is to learn from them. I learned, for anything technical about air and space, I need to proof my content with an expert before posting. Greg read this before I published it, and you can bet I’ll check with him in the future!
I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes too. I also hope you’ll get something good from them like learning more about Neil and the Armstrong Museum exhibits. That’s a great thing! Here’s to mistakes, and, turning them into opportunities!
Welcome to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. It opened in 1972 to honor Wapak’s hometown hero, Neil Armstrong. In 1969 he was the first man to set foot on the moon. Take a quick tour of some of the museum’s hot spots.
This is the first plane Neil flew. Neil either walked or rode his bike to an airport just outside of Wapak to take flight lessons. Would you believe Neil learned to fly at age 15, and that he got his pilot’s license before he got his driver’s license? He was 16 years old.
This plane sits outside in the museum parking lot. It’s one of the real planes Neil flew over Korea. He was a Navy pilot during the Korean War. Neil flew 72 missions, mostly in 1951 and 1952. He was 22 years old in 1952 when he left the Navy to return to Purdue University.
This is the real Gemini VIII. In 1966 Neil orbited the earth in this spaceship with David Scott. They almost died in it too. After docking with a satellite, the ship began to spin. After undocking, Neil had 30 seconds to get the ship under control. He made it! Maybe you can too. Test your skills in the museum’s simulator. Don’t forget to look inside the capsule. Can you imagine sitting in those seats for 75 hours? That’s 3 days and 3 hours. That’s a long time in those little seats! Neil was 36.
This is Neil’s real space suit. It went to the moon with him in 1969, but he never wore it there. The on, in Wapak was his spare. The suit he actually wore on the moon is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Both suits weigh about 190 pounds. They’re made of 21 layers of synthetics, neoprene rubber, and metalized polyester films. Back in 1969 the suit cost about $100,000. In today’s dollars that’s about $670,000. But, the suit was like wearing a personal spaceship. It protected Neil and Buzz from the dangers of the lunar environment, like extreme hot and cold, no air, ultraviolet radiation, and micrometeorites flying 10 miles per second at you. It was a very good thing!
After you finish touring the Armstrong Museum, head south on I75 towards Dayton, Ohio. You can tour the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This is an aerial view of the museum. It’s huge! I picked 4 of their exhibits.
Do you remember the Wright brothers? This exhibit showcases their 1909 Military Flyer. It was the first military heavier-than-air flying machine ever. That’s a mouthful! In 1909 it sold for $30,000. This isn’t the real plane, but, it’s a great reproduction put together in 1955. The engine was donated by Orville. The chains, sprockets, and propellers was donated by the Wright Brothers’ estate.
In 1930 the War Department thought about hiring female pilots, but thought they were too high strung for the job. By 1942 men were off flying WWII combat missions, and the Department needed women to pick up the slack. The Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASP was born. Experienced women pilots now took over service flights within the US for the War Department. By 1943 there were 1000 WASP’s serving their county. They broke ground for today’s lady pilots.
This is the Lockheed JetStar. This star of a plane carried presidents, high ranking government officials, and visiting leaders from other countries. The Air Force bought 6 JetStars in 1961. This JetStar was never officially Air Force 1, but it carried Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. It was retired in July 1987 after 26years of service. It truly was a star of a plane!
In July of 1971 this vehicle made it to the moon. It is the Apollo 15 command module, Endeavor. It was the fourth spaceship (of 6) to make it to the moon. The trip took 12 days total. The astronauts were only there for 67 hours. That’s almost 3 days (5 hours short). The astronauts were supposed to do lunar science experiments. They also got to ride on the first lunar rover, AKA moon buggy. Wouldn’t you love to rocket to the moon, then take a ride in a moon buggy? Would you believe Endeavor is checked out to the Air Force Museum, kind of like a library book? It’s on loan from Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.
If you enjoyed reading and looking at planes and spaceships, schedule a trip to my favorite museums, or one near you. There’s so much to see and do! You’ll love it!
This is biography month, and this is a very famous American. Do you recognize him?
This is Neil Armstrong at age 6. He has already had his first airplane flight, and he’s fascinated with all things air-borne. By 15 he was walking or biking to an airport near Wapakoneta, Ohio for flight lessons. Would you believe he got his pilot’s license before his driver’s license? The second picture shows Neil’s senior picture and signature. In high school he built a wind tunnel in his basement so he could fly model airplanes. Can you imagine? After graduation in 1947, he was off to Purdue to get a degree in aeronautical engineering.
Time flew, at least for Neil! In the first picture, he was a Navy pilot who flew 72 missions during the Korean War. In the second, he was a test pilot who tried out 200 different planes. It must have been a dream come true!
For Neil, his dreams grew even bigger. In 1962 he was picked to be one of the New Nine, NASA’s second group of astronauts. In 1966 he lifted off in Gemini 8 with David Scott. The first 11 hours were perfect. They successfully docked with a satellite, but then, it began to spin. Not good! Neil undocked. But the capsule still spun! Neil had 30 seconds to react before facing black-out, a death sentence in space. Neil and David remained calm. They got the ship under control. It was NASA’s first in-space critical failure, but Neil and David saved the day, and their own lives.
The Gemini docking was a prep for extracting the lunar landing. Maybe the experience helped Neil later. He and Buzz Aldrin were picked for Apollo 11, the first mission to the moon. They landed the Eagle, the lunar module, on July 20th, 1969. They had 30 seconds of fuel left. Wow! Good timing, guys!
At 10:56 PM that night Neil climbed down the ladder and put his foot on the moon. Can you imagine how he felt? He had the perfect thing to say! When you’re in the hot seat to say something important, plan ahead like Neil did. He tried out his line on his brother months before the launch. It worked!
Neil and Buzz spent about 21hours and 36 minutes on the moon. Not even a whole day! They took pictures and video. They collected rocks and dirt. They left behind footprints, an American flag, some science equipment, and a memorial bag. They’re still there, along with the lunar landing vehicle. Its plaque says: HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON JULY 1969 A.D. WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND
On July 21st at 1:54PM the two astronauts left the moon behind, never to return. I wonder if they knew.
The next picture is Neil in 2008, almost 40 years after the moon landing. He spent the rest of his life as a private citizen, out of the spotlight. He taught aerospace engineering in Cincinnati. He was chairman of an aviation company. Can you imagine working with Neil, or better yet, having him as your teacher?
In August of 2012 Neil died at age 82. If you want to remember him, go out on a clear night when the moon’s smiling down on you. Think of Neil and give him a wink.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!