Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Truly Alone

 

I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life. I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God knows what on this side. – Michael Collins

We are now celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. On Wednesday we discussed the first man on the Moon Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012. Yesterday we discussed Buzz Aldrin, who had a PhD in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The third member of the crew, Michael Collins, orbited the Moon while Neil and Buzz landed. There were many question on his role and how he felt about not landing. Like Armstrong and Aldrin, Collins decided to stop space flights after Apollo 11:

During the training for Apollo 11, [Deke] Slayton offered to get Collins back into the crew sequence after the flight. Collins would almost certainly have been the backup commander of Apollo 14, followed by commander of Apollo 17, but he told Slayton he did not want to travel to space again if Apollo 11 was successful. The strenuous schedule of an astronaut strained his family life.

Soon after leaving NASA, Collins took up the demanding role as Director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. In August 1972, Congress approved a $40 million budget for construction, and set the museum opening date of July 4, 1976 as part of the Bicentennial celebration. The design was completed in just nine months, and all contracts were awarded within a year. Over one million people visited during the first month, and it averages over eight million visitors per year. It holds the important aviation relics, including the Wright Flyer, The Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1 that broke the sound barrier, and the Apollo 11 Columbia capsule. Collins held the directorship until 1978.

In his autobiography he wrote “this venture has been structured for three men, and I consider my third to be as necessary as either of the other two.” During the 48 minutes of moon orbit out of radio contact, he reported it was not loneliness, but rather “awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation,” as shown in the quote above. However:

In a July 2009 interview with The Guardian, Collins revealed that he was very worried about Armstrong and Aldrin’s safety. He was also concerned in the event of their deaths on the Moon, he would be forced to return to Earth alone and, as the mission’s sole survivor, be regarded as “a marked man for life.”

On the 25th anniversary of Apollo 11 in July 1994, I was in Oshkosh Wisconsin, less than 20 feet from the famous trio of astronauts. Rather than sit with the thousands of Airventure spectators, our family sat behind the stage area (dais) less than 20 feet from the 15 Apollo astronauts that were present. The three Apollo 11 astronauts described their journey, and all 15 astronauts were very gracious answering questions from the crowd. Their banter and joviality was well received. A group picture from the Experimental Aircraft Association’s October 1994 publication Sport Aviation is shown below:

Published in Group Writing
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There are 9 comments.

  1. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman Post author

    Other comments from the October 1994 Issue of Sport Aviation:

    “It’s nice to see the airplanes again,” Jim McDivitt responded when asked what brought him to Oshkosh. “To get back and smell the kerosene and the gasoline. I don’t have a Private license, so I don’t get to fly. But I sure love to be around them.”

    If McDivitt hasn’t traded his astronaut wings for a Private pilot’s ticket, he’s definitely in the minority. Frank Borman flew his T-6 in from New Mexico. Jim Lovell piloted his Beech Baron from Texas and brought Stu Roosa with him in the right seat. Neil Armstrong flew his well-worn Cessna 310 up from Ohio. Gene Cernan flies a Cessna 421 – mostly for business – but came “commercial” to Oshkosh because of a tight schedule.

    Mike Collins thought he was saving time by taking an airliner, but his jet was put into a holding pattern while Bruce Bohannon set a world time-to climb record on Saturday. He arrived in time to participate in the Apollo news conference. Charles Duke, the 10th man to walk on the moon, also arrived at Oshkosh by private plane as did Buzz Aldrin. A Cessna 340 was dispatched to pick up Aldrin, Duke (now a retired air Force General) and Duke’s wife, Dotty, in Milwaukee.

    • #1
    • July 19, 2019, at 10:55 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman Post author

    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. We have only 4 days available on the July Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #2
    • July 19, 2019, at 10:57 AM PST
    • 1 like
  3. Miffed White Male Member

    I’m reading Michel Collin’s autobiography Carrying The Fire right now (about 5 minutes ago read the section where he got assigned to the 11 crew). He’s a very good writer. Clearly a really bright guy, he mixes occasional bits of prickliness on occasion, with several pretty funny anecdotes. [The “attachments” for the urine receptacles used in the Gemini spacesuits come in three sizes – not “small, medium and large”, but “extra large, immense, and unbelievable”.] He also just kind of hints at certain things that sound like he’s got a lot more stories to tell – he mentions kind of off-hand how he and Jim Lovell got involved in rock-throwing contests when they were supposed to be taking geology lessons on a field trip to the Grand Canyon.

    He was originally assigned to the crew for Apollo 8, but had to have spinal surgery that took him off flying status, and was replaced by Jim Lovell. He got put back on flying status just in time to be assigned to Apollo 11.

    He includes brief one-paragraph impressions of several of the astronauts he knew. Among the things he says about Buzz Aldrin,”Fame has not been worn well on Buzz. I think he resents not being first on the moon more than he appreciates being second”. [This was written in 1974].

    • #3
    • July 19, 2019, at 11:26 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Vectorman Thatcher
    Vectorman Post author

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    Among the things he says about Buzz Aldrin,”Fame has not been worn well on Buzz. I think he resents not being first on the moon more than he appreciates being second

    Buzz Aldrin certainly had his problems:

    1. Aldrin has been married three times. First in 1954 and divorced in 1974, with three children. His second in 1976 and divorced in 1978. His third was in 1988. He also had an affair.
    2. He was hospitalized for depression for four weeks.
    3. Did not get along with his superior, Brigadier General Bob White, who was known for his X-15 flights.
    • #4
    • July 19, 2019, at 11:55 AM PST
    • Like
  5. She Thatcher
    She

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    I’m reading Michel Collin’s autobiography Carrying The Fire right now (about 5 minutes ago read the section where he got assigned to the 11 crew). He’s a very good writer. Clearly a really bright guy, he mixes occasional bits of prickliness on occasion, with several pretty funny anecdotes. [The “attachments” for the urine receptacles used in the Gemini spacesuits come in three sizes – not “small, medium and large”, but “extra large, immense, and unbelievable”.]

    Thanks for my first good laugh of the day. How unsurprised I am.

    • #5
    • July 19, 2019, at 12:07 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I love these personal stories about these men. It turns super-humans into flawed, approachable and ordinary men. Doing extraordinary jobs, of course!

    • #6
    • July 19, 2019, at 12:33 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    he mentions kind of off-hand how he and Jim Lovell got involved in rock-throwing contests when they were supposed to be taking geology lessons on a field trip to the Grand Canyon.

    Anybody can throw a rock, but only the truly great can catch one.

    • #7
    • July 19, 2019, at 8:51 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Randy Weivoda Moderator

    Excellent post, Vectorman.

    • #8
    • July 21, 2019, at 12:23 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Collins is going to be at Airventure in Oshkosh on Friday, the 26th.

    • #9
    • July 21, 2019, at 8:36 PM PST
    • 3 likes