The climax of Cradle of Aviation Museum’s family friendly Apollo 11 50th anniversary Moon Fest was the countdown to the landing of a scale model of the Eagle lunar module timed with a video of the actual landing.
But there was so much more during the day. Some 2500 people
turned out to take part in events and activities.
They delighted in meeting three Space Shuttle astronauts,
who gave talks and signed autographed photos: Bill Shepherd (a former Babylon
resident, who was in the first crew and literally turned on the lights in the International
Space Station and lived in space for140 days) & Charlie Camarda (of Ozone
American engineer and a NASA astronaut who flew his first mission into space on
board the Space Shuttle mission STS-114 and served as Senior Advisor for
Engineering Development at NASA Langley Research Center) and
Bob Cenker, a payload specialist and crew member on the seventh flight of Space
Among the docents and guides are many former Grumman workers who helped build the machines and communications that put astronauts on the moon and the International Space Station, as well as space enthusiasts, like Matt Arnold, who, after giving a guided tour of the Space exhibit, shows us the model of the International Space Station that he built for the museum. Richard Kalen, of Hicksville, who had helped assemble the wings on the Shuttle, explained what went wrong to cause the Challenger and Columbia tragedies.
There were moon buggy races, where kids got to traverse a “lunar
obstacle course” driving electric lunar rovers; launched water-bottle rockets
they built and decorated; looked through solar telescopes; saw student-built robotics
demonstrations from the First Lego League; posed for photos with the superhero
characters from the not-for-profit NY Avengers Cosplayers.
There were also screenings of the Apollo 11 First Steps
Edition documentary in Cradle’s immerse Dome Theater and a virtual reality
experience where you explore the inside and outside of the Apollo 11 with
Microsoft’s Mixed Reality and HoloLens technology.
Then, at 4 pm, they crammed into the atrium to watch a video
of the actual Apollo 11 landing, as a scale model of the Lunar Module descended
in concert with the actual events.
The celebration continued into the evening with a dinner
menu matching the same beef-and-salmon menu served to the astronauts at the
White House and dancing to the music of the 1960s.
Cradle of Aviation Museum, home of the Lunar Module, is currently exhibiting
the largest collection of Lunar Modules, Lunar Module parts, artifacts, photos,
and documentation in the world.
There is still time to
visit the Apollo Space Exhibit. Here are 11 “must sees”:
1. Grumman Lunar Module LM-13 – the crowned jewel of
the museum. The LM-13 was intended for the Apollo 19 mission to Copernicus
Crater in 1973, which was ultimately cancelled. It is one of three Lunar
Modules left on earth. The other two are at Kennedy Space Center and
Smithsonian’s Air & Space. It is presented in a re-created lunar surface
scene with a mannequin wearing an actual Apollo spacesuit.
Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center is home to over 75 planes and
spacecraft representing over 100 years of aviation history and Long Island’s
only Giant Screen Dome Theater. Currently, the museum is celebrating
“Countdown to Apollo at 50” sponsored by the Robert D.L.
Gardiner Foundation, showcasing Long Island and Grumman’s significant role in
the Apollo program. The Museum was recently recognized and listed on New York
State’s National Register of Historic Places as a significant part of American
history. The museum is located on Museum Row, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., in East
Garden City. For more information call (516) 572-4111 or visit www.cradleofaviation.org.
County Executive Laura Curran, who donned a replica space suit, and NASA astronaut
Babylon resident Bill
on hand at the Cradle of Aviation Museum to officially begin the countdown to
the 50th Anniversary celebration of the first lunar landing, July
20, 1969. They were joined by Grumman
Engineer Ross Brocco, Museum President Andy Parton and Museum Curator Josh Stoff.
will shine a light on one of the greatest
human and technological achievements in history,” Parton said.
events that start at 9:30 am reach a climax with a Community Countdown at 4:17
pm to collectively watch, re-experience, and honor as a community, the historic
“The Eagle has Landed” Lunar Module landing on the moon. A model of the Lunar
Module will descend from the ceiling, precisely on time.
Shepherd, who was in the first crew on the International Space Station (“We
turned on the lights”) and lived in space for 140 days, sees the importance of
Cradle of Aviation Museum, with its active STEM education programs and the
ability for people, young and old, to interact with exhibits – like climb into
a Gemini capsule, land a Space Shuttle, and in the current exhibit, enter a
space habitation on Mars, and the largest collection of Apollo artifacts in the
world, including an actual lunar module which was built by Grumman in Bethpage
for Apollo 19, a moon mission that was scrubbed.
lunar landing was one of humankind’s epic achievements,” said Shepherd, who
will be on hand during the day to interact with museum goers. “Beyond Apollo,
it ignited a process that is still going on. NASA is on course to go back to
the moon, a steppingstone to planetary expedition to Mars. Children today may
critically vital, he said, for children to have the opportunity to be exposed
to “first-hand” science, as opposed to watching documentaries on television. “Education
is turning to project-based and experiential learning, versus textbooks. Here,
kids get to see for themselves. The tangible makes learning enjoyable.”
pointed to the Cradle of Aviation as one of the best museums – even attractions
– on Long Island. “It is such an asset in the heart of our county..
July 20, in addition to the Apollo events, there will be former Grumman
engineers and employees who helped build the lunar module and the equipment
that made the space program possible, among them Ross Bracco, a structural
engineer at Grumman who is now a volunteer at Cradle of Aviation Museum.
Shepherd will lead two “episodes” allowing kids to design their own lunar
noted that the moon, itself, remains a mystery – how it was created more than 4
billion years ago – was it knocked off from earth or form separately? “We don’t
know but maybe some kids here will research.” He said the moon has been static
for 4 billion years, unlike the earth which is “dynamic” and changing, so is a
time piece that can shed light on what the solar system was like 4 billion
years ago. “We are learning about the moon’s relationship to the earth.”
you can even get a whiff of what the moon smells like in one of the exhibit.
On Saturday, July 20, 2019,
thousands of people will be joining together at the Cradle of Aviation Museum
to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission. The Cradle
of Aviation, home of the Lunar Module, is celebrating all day and night with
two festive events to give the community an opportunity to learn, reflect,
remember, & jointly celebrate, all the wonder, achievement, and pride that
will be events throughout the day:
COMMUNITY COUNTDOWN TO LUNAR
LANDING – Join in a Community Countdown at 4:17 pm to collectively
watch, re-experience, and honor as a community, the historic “The Eagle
has Landed” Lunar Module landing on the moon.
ASTRONAUT ENCOUNTERS with Space
Shuttle Astronauts Bill Shepherd (Babylon) & Charlie Camarda (Ozone
Park), both from Long Island, and Bob Cenker.
MOON BUGGY RACES – Traverse a
lunar obstacle course driving an electric lunar rover. (kids)
VIRTUAL REALITY – Explore the
inside and outside of the Apollo 11 up close and personal with Microsoft’s
Mixed Reality and the Microsoft HoloLens technology.
APOLLO 11 FIRST STEPS in IMAX –
Experience a free showing of the new highly-acclaimed documentary, Apollo
11 First Steps Edition in our immersive Dome Theater.
SOLAR TELESCOPES- Explore the
sun with a special purpose solar telescope.
LAUNCH ROCKETS – Build,
decorate, then launch a water bottle rocket.
ROBOTICS DEMONSTRATIONS – View
and interact with student-built robotics from the First Lego
VISITS FROM THE UNIVERSE – The
not-for profit, NY Avengers Cosplayers are assembling at the Cradle to
celebrate the American heroes who contributed to the successful lunar
Museum opens at
9:30am. Family activities are 12:00 – 4:00pm. Countdown begins at 4:00pm.
Then, from 7-11 pm, is
the Apollo at Countdown Celebration, a lively dinner and champagne toast with
music and dancing, as the community comes together to watch and re-experience
the unforgettable first steps on the moon at 10:56 pm with a special moon
landing viewing and countdown.
Astronauts Bill Shepherd (Babylon) & Charlie Camarda (Ozone Park), both
from Long Island, and Bob Cenker, will be in attendance.
Tickets to either
event can be purchased at www.cradleofaviation.org/apollo or
by calling Reservations 516-572-4066 (M-F) 10:00am-4:00pm) Grumman Retirees and
Museum Members, may call Reservations for discounted tickets. Proceeds to
Benefit Museum Education and Preservation Programs.
Cradle of Aviation
the reason there is such a world-class space and aviation museum here on
Charles Lindbergh Avenue, named for the famous aviator, is that this is indeed
the cradle of aviation – it is located on what was Mitchel Air Force Base
Field, which, together with
nearby Roosevelt Field and other airfields on the Hempstead Plains, was the
site of many historic flights , most significantly, where Lindbergh set off for
his historic transatlantic solo flight to Paris and it was on Long Island that
so much of the aviation industry and innovations happened. In fact, so many seminal flights occurred in
the area, that by the mid-1920s the cluster of airfields was already dubbed the
“Cradle of Aviation”, the origin of the museum’s name.
events and exhibits also pay homage to Grumman engineers who designed and built
the lunar exploration module (LEM), and there is an actual LEM on exhibit – the
only actual LEM of the three modules on exhibit (the three that went to the
moon remained there). This one was built by Grumman for Apollo 19 but that
mission was scrubbed.
can also see mock-ups of Grumman engineers in a “clean room” building a LEM.
of Aviation museum has the largest collection of Apollo artifacts anywhere –
the space exhibits are phenomenal and include simulators and a real moon rock.
so it was fitting at one of the Apollo 50th events held in recent
weeks, the Gold Coast International Film Festival screening of “First Man,” as
part of its Science on Screen series, three former Grumman engineers who worked
on Apollo project related their experience.
who was a co-op engineering intern running technical tests on the Lunar
Excursion Module landing gear and in the Cold Flow area for final ascent &
descent stage system tests before delivery to NASA, reflected, “Had we never had the Apollo1 tragedy, where three astronauts were
lost, the likelihood of doing a successful lunar landing was low…The post-fire evaluation of the design of command
module found so many things inadequately or improperly or stupidly designed-
not the least was the hatch which opened in instead of out so that in a
pressurized environment, it couldn’t open. NASA’s oversight over all the contractors
doubled or tripled. So the prevailing theory is that if that fire hadn’t
happened, design defects could have caused a situation where Apollo 11 couldn’t
Richard Dunne, who was
the chief spokesman for the Grumman Corporation, which
designed and built the Apollo Lunar Module: “The fire
forced a redesign of everything
in the command module and lunar module.” He also reflected on how close it was
that the United States might not have won the space race at all “Two weeks
before Apollo 11 launched, the Russians attempted moon shot, but it exploded.
The way the United States knew about it was because our spy satellites detected
Mike Lisa, who worked
as an engineer on the Lunar Excursion Module in 1963 until the program ended
and spent 36 years at Northrop Grumman, said, “The most important thing was to bring the astronauts
back healthy. A device called a tumbler would grab the LEM on both sides and
flip it around – tumble and turn – to shake anything that might have been loose
inside. On this particular day, I was working in a semi-clean room – we wore white
jackets and different hats to show what we working on – and tumbling, there was
a clink and a nut fell on the floor. The NASA inspector was there and shut the
room down for a whole week, but we all had to be on station, 24/7, waiting for
permission to reopen.”
Inspiring Future Generations Through Learning
Cradle of Aviation Museum
originally opened with just a handful of aircraft in the un-restored hangars in
1980. A major renovation and expansion program in the late 1990s allowed the
museum to re-open in a state-of-the-art facility in 2002. Additional expansion
plans are currently under development. The museum is an educational center
preserving Long Island’s contribution to aerospace, science and technology by
inspiring future generations through learning.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center today is home to over 75 planes and spacecraft representing over 100 years of aviation history and Long Island’s only Giant Screen Dome Theater. The museum has been celebrating “Countdown to Apollo at 50” sponsored by the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation, through much of the year, showcasing Long Island and Grumman’s significant role in the Apollo program. The Museum was recently recognized and listed on New York State’s National Register of Historic Places as a significant part of American history. The museum is located on Museum Row, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., in East Garden City. For more information call (516) 572-4111 or visit www.cradleofaviation.org.
On a grand night at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale, Long Island, five of the Apollo astronauts, including three of only 12 men who have ever walked on the moon, and two flight directors who controlled the Apollo missions, reflected on their experiences. It was an epic event in a year of events at the museum marking the 50th Anniversary of the first man to walk on the moon, inspiring interest in space science, which will climax on July 20 at the exact moment when Neil Armstrong made his “giant leap for mankind.”
Cradle of Aviation Museum has special meaning to the astronauts, many of whom
have come to the museum over the years to give talks and participate in events.
Not only is it home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of Lunar
Modules,(LM-13, LTA-1), Lunar Module parts and Lunar Module photos and
documentation, but it also is home to the engineers of Grumman Aerospace
Corporation that designed, built and tested the Lunar Modules between 1961-1972
which successfully landed 12 men on the moon between 1969-1972.
Rusty Schweickartwas the first to pilot the Lunar Module, testing the craft on the Apollo 9 mission in 1969 before it was used on the moon in Apollo 11. He was one of the first astronauts to space-walk without a tether, and one of the first to transmit live TV pictures from space. He is also credited with development of the hardware and procedures which prolonged the life of the Skylab space station.
Schweickart reflected on a moment when he was essentially stranded in space. “I turned around and looked at earth, brilliant blue horizon. There was no sound – I was floating inside my suit which was floating. Just hanging out looking at earth, completely silent. My responsibility at that moment was to absorb: I’m a human being. Questions floated in: how did I get here, why was I here. I realized the answer was not simple. What does ‘I’ mean? ‘Me’ or ‘us’. Humanity – our partnership with machines allowed humankind to move out to this environment. 10,000 years from now, it will still be the moment when humanity stepped out to space. While we celebrate something we were part of, it’s one of the events in human history, , that if we don’t wipe ourselves out, we will still have this unique moment in time when life moved out to outer space.”
Fred Haise,the Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 13 mission, would have been the 6th man to walk on the moon. After the Apollo program ended in 1977, he worked on the Shuttle program, and after retiring from NASA, worked for 16 years as an executive for Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Haise reflected that when JFK made his challenge to go to the moon before the end of the decade, he thought this was mission impossible based on where the technology was. “I saw nothing at hand that would have accomplished that. By then, there was just Alan Shepherd who went up and down, the rockets were invented by Germans in World War II.”
When the disaster struck the Apollo 13 – an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the Service Module which supplied power and life support to the Command Module, he reflected, “We weren’t afraid. All of us in the program did the best we could. We were aware of the problems. Everyone was willing to pay the price to make the mission successful.”
situation was not immediately life-threatening . ”Clearly we had lost one tank. I was sick to
my stomach with disappointment that we had lost the moon. It took us almost an
hour to stop the leak in the second tank. “
The Lunar Module was pressed into service as a literally lifeboat and tugboat – a role never anticipated for it.
“The LM bought time. I was never worried. Not sure how it would operate past the two days. Nothing had been damaged in the LM, so I knew we had a homestead we could operate from, and people on the ground were losing a lot of sleep working through the challenges. We never really got to the cliff we were about the fall off.”
Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of cooling water and the critical need to make repairs to the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth. It was hailed as the most successful failure.
Charlie Duke (Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 16, the 10th person to walk on the moon and the youngest, at 36 years old), reflected “Driving over the surface of the moon, we didn’t have TV. I was the travel guide for mission control, 250,000 miles away. So I narrated, ‘Now we’re passing on the right…’ – giving a travelogue – as we drove from point A to point B, and I was taking pictures. My job was to get us A to B and describe for mission control what seeing while John was driving…
“The rover did tremendously well, it revolutionized lunar exploration. Prior, we had to walk everywhere, not the easiest thing. Thankfully the rover was a revolution to see so much. Say to all the Grumman folks here who worked on that, you guys built a great machine. We shared the moon speed record because the odometer only went to 17 mph. Three rovers are up there – if you want an $8 million car with a dead battery.”
Harrison Schmitt(Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 17) was also a former geologist, professor, US Senator from New Mexico. He was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 17, the final manned lunar landing mission. He was the first scientist and one of the last astronauts to walk on the moon – the 12th man and second youngest person to set foot on the moon.
“The thing about our valley [where the
mission explored], Apollo worked in a brilliant sun, as brilliant as any New
Mexico sun, but the sky was absolute black. That was hard to get used to. We
grow up with blue skies. I never felt comfortable with black sky. But in that
black sky was of course that seemingly small planet Earth, always hanging over
the same part of the valley. Whenever I was homesick, I would just look up –
home was only 250,000 miles away.”
Milt Windler was one of the four flight directors of Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team, all of whom were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard M. Nixon for their work in guiding the crippled spacecraft safely back to Earth. Formerly a jet fight pilot, he joined NASA in 1959 during Project Mercury. Windler also served as a flight director for Apollo 8, 10, 11, 14, 15 and all three Skylab missions. After Apollo, he worked in the Space shuttle project office on Remote Manipulator Systems Operations until 1978. He is the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.
Reflecting on the Apollo 13 mission, he said, “It is a common misconception that flight control was one person all 15 days of a mission. But missions were divided into distinct phases – launch, lunar descent, EVA, rendezvous – and there were teams for each. Each team simulated, practiced problems. One of the things that worked well on Apollo was anticipating what would happen. After a flight, we would discuss lessons learned, to come up with improvements. By the time of Apollo 13 developed a real serious problem, we were a finely honed machine.”
Gerry Griffinjoined NASA in 1964 as flight controller in Mission Control during Project Gemini. In 1968, he was named a Mission Control flight director, for all the Apollo manned mission. Gerry’s “Gold” team conducted half of the lunar landings made during Apollo 14, 16, and 17, and would have conducted the landing of Apollo 13 but played a key role in the safe return of the astronauts. Later Griffin played several Hollywood roles in movies including “Apollo 13, “ “Contact”, Deep Space” and “From the Earth to the Moon,”, as a consultant and even an actor.
The astronauts reflected on the “perfect storm”
of forces and factors that resulted in the incomparable space program that put
a man on the moon within a decade – Griffin, quoting Neil Armstrong, said you
needed four things: threat, bold leadership, public support and resources. “He
said that most of the time, those are out of sequence with each other – you may
have the threat but not the resources. It was a perfect storm when Apollo
happened”: the threat from the Soviet Union taking mastery of space frontier; a
balanced budget not yet weighted down by national debt; bold political
leadership and public support. “You had the resources and human resources,
primarily from World War II from the aviation industry, with Grumman part of
it hadn’t been Apollo, it would have been something else. When the Soviets
launched Sputnik and then Gagarin [became the first man in space], the threat
was clear, and everything else fell into line. I think he’s right. Nowadays, we
have a threat now – China – those guys are good. There is a technological
threat now, and could be more later. Leadership? Draw your own conclusion. Resources?
We haven’t had them. Public support? … But I’m an optimistic. If we are going
to make 2024 – that’s awful tight, but I was like Fred, I didn’t think we could
land on moon in the 1960s, but we did. Maybe if things line up better, we could
do it by 2024, if not 2028.”
Asked why we haven’t been back to the moon, Schweickart said, “You need to be young, innovative, not an aging bureaucracy….
need technological, political courage. The moon was in exactly the right place.
The next steps are not quite that easy . There is a debate between going back
to the moon or on to Mars that has raged for years and still does. There’s not
the same opportunity that we had at that time. In many ways, the most important
thing in terms of a sense of challenge, moving out, moving forward is one of
age. Bureaucracy – corporation or government – where the average age increases
every year, you’re cooked.”
are much more encouraged by private enterprise taking over space exploration.
“You don’t see much about Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos, but we will. When you see
[Elon Musks’s] SpaceX launch Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and bring back two stages
that land in formation, and the cameras show all these kids, 20 years old,
hooping and hollering, they did it! That’s what it takes. NASA used to be that
way. Part of the real juice in space exploration is encouraging private
activities in space. That today is where most of the juice is, getting young
people involved is the key, giving them the opportunity. Jeff Bezos says it
well. His fundamental motivating, commitment to space is to reduce the cost so
more and more can take part and therefore dramatically increase the quality and
opportunity for innovation. As the cost of getting to space drops, the
creativity will dramatically increase. That’s where it’s at in the future.”
Walt Cunningham a fighter pilot before he became an astronaut, in 1968, he was a Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 7 mission. He’s also been a physicist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author of “The All American Boys.”
“Our society is changing,”
he reflected the next evening when he gave a lecture at the museum. “Back when
Apollo was a story of exploration and adventure – my generation – we had te opportunity
and courage to reach around the moon and to the stars. We were willing to take
risks, didn’t shy from unknown. In those days, it seemed normal to do what we
were doing – exploring the next frontier. Today, the entire world takes pride
in this greatest adventure.”
Sixty years ago, “the
main drive was beating Russians to the moon. They beat us around earth. When
that started a technological fight to finish, not a single American had been in
orbit, but Kennedy was willing to take the risk – not just technological, but
human, economic, political. He took the initiative, the leadership. Today, that
goal is history. Fifty years ago, we never thought of failing –we had fighter
pilot attitude – common dream to test limits of imagination, daring.
“That attitude enabled
us to overcome obstacles. Any project as complex as Apollo required resources,
technology, but most importantly, the will. Driven by the Cold War, all three came
together in the 1960s and we went to moon. Think of it: only three generations separated
man’s first flight off the earth and man’s first orbit around the earth. Only
ironically, on the same day as the astronauts were assembled at Cradle of
Aviation, President Donald Trump was contradicting Vice President Mike Pence
and his own policy, which said that the US would be back on the moon by 2024.
Trump called another moon mission a
waste of money which should be spent, instead to go to Mars.
Trump also has called for the creation of a
Space Force, a new branch of the armed forces, effectively undoing the spirit
of international cooperation in space exploration to advance human knowledge,
with a shift toward militarizing space.
The countdown clock in the lobby of the Cradle of Aviation Museum showed 43 days to July 20, the 50th anniversary of the first man to walk on the moon, on the night of the museum’s grand gala at which seven former astronauts and flight directors were feted – Walt Cunningham (Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 7), Rusty Schweickart(Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 9), Fred Haise(Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 13). Charlie Duke (Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 16), Harrison Schmitt(Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 17) and Apollo Flight Directors, Gerry Griffin and Milt Windler – along with Grumman employees who built the lunar module and the equipment which put them there.
Throughout this year, the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale, Long Island, not far from where the lunar module was designed and built by Grumman engineers in Bethpage and a stone’s throw from Roosevelt Field where Charles Lindbergh took off for his historic transatlantic flight to Paris, has been hosting special events to mark the anniversary, use it for STEM education and inspire a new generation eager to reach for the stars.
The events climax on July 20, when at the exact same moment as Neil Armstrong made his “giant leap for mankind”, a replica lunar module will descend from the ceiling. Museum goers also can see an actual lunar module, one of the six that Grumman built (three are still on the moon, and the other three are in the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and here at the Cradle of Aviation Museum).
One of the extraordinary exhibits on view at the museum now is“Space: A Journey to Our Future,” which is on view through August 18, 2019, an absolutely thrilling, immersive exhibit which takes you from the dawn of man’s earliest visions of space exploration to the heroic achievements of the past, the unfolding discoveries of today, and the frontiers of the universe that lie ahead. You get to touch actual rocks from the lunar surface and the red planet, explore a futuristic Lunar Base Camp while walking through a full-size space habitat and work pod, get an up-close look at a wide range of artifacts from the space program and experience the past, present and future of space through these and dozens of other displays, interactive (try your hand at landing the space shuttle!) and experiences.
Also, as part of this special celebration, the museumis showing Todd Douglas Miller’s new documentary film, “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition,” a special giant-screen edition created exclusively for science centers and museum theaters, like Cradle’s Dome Theater. With a newly-discovered trove of never-before-seen 70mm footage and audio recordings, APOLLO 11: First Steps Edition joins Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the Mission Control team and millions of spectators around the world, during those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future.
at 50: Moon Fest,” on July 20 will be a family festival (9:30-5 pm, with
activities 12-4pm) with visits from Long Island Space Shuttle Astronauts
including Bill Shepherd (Babylon) and Charlie Carmada (Ozone Park). All day
activities include virtual reality experiences, model rocket launches, and a countdown
at 4:18 pm to collectively watch, re-experience, and honor as a community, the
historic “The Eagle has Landed” Lunar Module landing on the moon. As a special
bonus, all museum attendees will get a free showing of the new highly-acclaimed
documentary, Apollo 11 First Steps Edition in the immersive
Dome Theater. (Tickets: $20)
Then, in the evening, there will be a Countdown Celebration, a lively dinner and champagne toast with 1960s music and dancing, as the community watches and re-experiences the unforgettable first steps on the moon at 10:56 pm with a special moon landing viewing and countdown. There will also be photo opportunities in a re-created 1969 living room. (The dinner event ticket includes admission to Apollo Moon Fest events during the day; tickets: $125).
Island: The Nation’s Cradle of Aviation
Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center is home to over 75 planes and
spacecraft representing over 100 years
of aviation history, from hot air balloons to the lunar module, in eight
galleries, a planetarium and Long Island’s only Giant Screen Dome Theater.
The Cradle of Aviation Museum commemorates and
celebrates Long Island’s part in the history of aviation and space
exploration. It is set on land once part of Mitchel Air Force
Base which, together with nearby Roosevelt Field and other
airfields on the Hempstead Plains, was the site of many historic flights.
In fact, so many seminal flights occurred in the area, that by the mid-1920s
the cluster of airfields was already dubbed the “Cradle of Aviation”, the
origin of the museum’s name. The Museum was recently recognized and listed on New
York State’s National Register of Historic Places as a significant part of
The museum originally opened with just a handful of aircraft
in the un-restored hangars in 1980. A major renovation and expansion program in
the late 1990s allowed the museum to re-open in a state-of-the-art facility in
2002. The museum is undergoing a major fund-raising campaign for a future
It is remarkable to
contemplate that within a century, aviation went from the Wright Brothers to
the moon, from a dangerous sport to mass transportation and commercial
enterprise, and Long Island played a significant part.
It starts with Long Island’s geography: a natural airfield,
on the eastern edge of the United States, the western edge of the Atlantic
Ocean, adjacent to a major population center, and Hempstead Plains, the only
natural prairie east of the Allegheny Mountains, writes Joshua Stoff, Curator,
Cradle of Aviation Museum.
We trace flying back to the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, NC
in 1903, lasting 59 seconds over a distance of 852 feet but Stoff notes that the
first recorded aircraft flight took place on Long Island, in 1896 when a
Lilienthal-type glider was flown from the bluffs along Nassau County’s north
shore. By 1902 gasoline-powered airships were flown over Brooklyn (why doesn’t
Long Island get more credit?). By 1910, there were three airfields operating on
the Hempstead Plains, Long Islanders were building their own planes, and there
were several flying schools and aircraft factories that made Long Island “the
center of the aviation world.” Exhibits show artifacts of these early pursuits.
Belmont Park hosted the 1910 International Aviation Meet of
the greatest aviators from America and Europe.
“The period between 1918
and 1939 is considered the ‘Golden Age of Aviation’ when flying went from being
a dangerous sport to a major commercial industry,” Stoff writes. Most famous of
all was Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo transatlantic flight, from Roosevelt
Field to Paris, in 1927. “This single event revolutionized aviation as nothing
else before or since…
“By the early 1930s Roosevelt Field was the largest and
busiest civilian airfield in America with over 150 aviation businesses and 450
planes based there. In 1937 the first regular commercial transatlantic airline
service in America was begun at Port Washington as huge Pan American Martin and
Boeing flying boats departed and arrived regularly at Manhasset Bay.”
World War II sparked aviation and demand for aircraft. The two
biggest aircraft companies, Grumman, was founded in Long island in 1930;
Republic in 1931. They produced most of the military aircraft; other companies,
Sperry, Brewster, Ranger, and Columbia, also contributed to the war effort. By
1945, 100,000 Long Islanders were employed in the aircraft industry.
Though aircraft are no longer manufactured on Long Island
(the Grumman plant in Bethpage is now a movie and television studio), it is
surprising to realize that there are still 240 Long Island producing parts for
virtually every American aircraft that flies.
Long Island’s important
contribution to aviation is brilliant displayed in exhibits throughout the
Long Island in Space
Thomas J. Kelly, of
Cutchogue, retired president of the Grumman Space Station Integration Division
and formerly lunar module engineering director, writes that there is still some
Long Island left on the moon – six spacecraft built on Long Island remain on
Designing and building those craft, as part of the greater
challenge of beating the Russians to the moon by 1969, was a monumental
endeavor. Writing on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the
moon landing, Kelly reflected, “For some 7,000 Grumman employees, however, it
was far more intimate than an issue of national prestige. We felt personally
empowered to put Americans at the edge of a frontier that even today seems
incomprehensible. Yet not only did we succeed in meeting the mission; the
efforts of our nation’s commitment to lunar exploration also inspired people
around the world and showed the finest possibilities of human achievement and
of creating technology that now helps to power our society…
“Nobody at Grumman who worked on the LM will ever forget it.
Even the 12-and 14-hour weekdays, the frustrating paperwork and the sheer
complexity of designing, building and testing the module could not dim our
dedication. From the sweeper to the chief engineer, we all knew that we were
part of a majestic endeavor, that we were making history happen.”
At the gala, I meet Richard A. Hoffman sitting in front of the museum’s own actual lunar module, built by Grumman in Bethpage. He was a metallurgist who determined what the different parts should be made of aluminum for the struts, titanium for the propellant tanks, stainless steel propellant lines, high output silver and silver oxide batteries. He had to figure the pyrotechnics that would cause the four bolts that secured the module on the descent, to burst at just the right time with guillotine cutters for lift off from the moon. Hoffman told me he came to Grumman in the summer of 1963, and got a job there right after graduating Brooklyn Polytech in 1964. He was in just the right place at the right time, when Grumman started working on the Apollo program and he was transferred to engineering.