Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. At an early age, he was fascinated by airplanes. On his sixteenth birthday, Armstrong was issued a pilot’s license and he even built a small wind tunnel in his basement where he did experiments on model planes. After two years at Purdue University he was called to active duty with the Navy where he flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War. When he returned from the war he completed his degree in aeronautical engineering. He then became a test pilot at the NCAA High Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base in California. In September 1962, Armstrong became America’s first civilian astronaut and began training in Houston, Texas. He was an alternate command pilot for the Gemini 5 and was command pilot for Gemini 8 in 1966 where he fixed a malfunction that made the vehicle go out of control, landing within 1.1 nautical miles of the intended landing point. He went back to his training and was an alternate for Gemini 11 but he impressed those who would choose the first crew to go to the moon. In January 1969 he was chosen as commander of the Apollo 11 mission that would land on the moon. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 9:32am on July 16, 1969. Their successful journey took four days and they landed on the moon on July 20 with the world watching and listening on TV and radio. At 10:56pm Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, saying “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong and Aldrin spent two hours walking on the moon, deploying a seismograph and wind particle collector and collecting rock and soil samples.
Armstrong and the other members of the Apollo 11 team were guided from the ground by a group of hundreds of flight controllers, each of whom responsible for a single operation of the vehicle. They were headed by Flight Director, Gene Kranz, who was also the Flight Director for Gemini 4 and odd-numbered Apollo missions, most notably he was responsible for bringing Apollo 13 home safely.
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler