Moonstruck: A Reporter's Personal 2001 Space Odyssey
July 20 marks 50 years since the landing that made two men into legends. Back in 2001, before he came to WKAR, Kevin Lavery was moonstruck to meet Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo 11 astronaut who walked with Neil Armstrong on the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969.
As you were landing on the Moon, were you as caught up in the romance and the mystique of it all as the rest of the planet was watching you, or were you thinking about the job at hand?
EDWIN “BUZZ” ALDRIN:
Well, I don’t want to wander away from the great excitement that accompanied that activity, but we were doing a job…and it was a very significant one.
(AUDIO of Neil Armstrong: “That’s one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind.”)
When we came back and I viewed the excitement of the world, I said to Neil (Armstrong), ‘we missed the whole thing.’ We…the two of us up there didn’t get to celebrate all that. We still had a lot of things to do; we were kind of busy. It wasn’t until we got back that we saw all the celebrations. So, we did kind of miss that activity.
What is it like to stand 240,000 miles from your home planet, to know that you and the man standing next to you are the only human beings that have ever done that?
There was this moment of kind of a ‘gee whiz’ realization that we are further away than two people have ever been; but how ironic it is that we’re not being ignored. We’re being paid more attention to by the people back home than has ever been attention paid to two human beings.
I had the opportunity to just put a couple of words together there: ‘magnificent desolation.’ That just occurred to me right on the spot.
When Houston called and said, ‘Apollo 11, you’re cleared for liftoff,’ I said, ‘Roger. We’re number one on the runway!’ I really appreciate the chuckle that I hear from pilots when they hear that transmission from the Moon.