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Ohio History – Wapakoneta and the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.

August 3, 2019

Two weeks ago was the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing- what an amazing achievement!  I remember that night 50 years ago as a young child, watching the black-and-white broadcast from the moon.  I was a space exploration fan then, and still am all these years later.

Ohio’s own Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon.  He lived in Wapakoneta Ohio, where a museum has been erected in his honor.  Last October, I visited the town and the museum- and this is a good time to look at the photos I took there.

 

Wapakoneta

Wapakoneta means ‘white cloth’ in the Shawnee tongue, an indication of its neutral status in the late 18th century.  The Shawnee tribe had moved into the area when the Miami tribe left after their defeat at the hands of George Rogers Clark.  Situated between British Detroit and American Cincinnati, a great council lodge was built here, where the Ohio tribes would meet in opposition to the encroachment of white settlers.  All of this ended after the Battle of Fallen Timbers when most of Ohio became white territory by treaty.  In 1831, most of the Shawnee headed west.

The town was incorporated in 1849 and was a northwest Ohio railway center for agricultural and manufactured goods.  Today, just under 10,000 people call Wapakoneta home.

The town is the county seat for Auglaize County.  Here’s the county courthouse, completed in 1894.

 

Armstrong Air and Space Museum

Wapakoneta’s most famous son has a museum in town- the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.

Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut and aeronautical engineer who was the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also a naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor.

The museum building itself is an interesting bit of architecture: ‘The museum itself is designed to resemble a futuristic moon base’.

On the grounds there is a memorial to the three American astronaut crews who perished.

Also on the grounds is a jet that Armstrong flew when he was with NASA.

This plaque at the entrance brought to mind that Mr. Armstrong, a private man, was averse to being seen as profiting off of his fame.  He sued his barber who sold his hair clippings for $3,000 to a collector.  The settlement had the barber donate that money to a charity of Armstrong’s choice.

I was unaware that Ohio was home to so many American astronauts!

The museum briefly covered the history of powered flight.  It’s amazing to think that the first airplane flew in 1903 and then 66 years later, humankind walked upon the Moon.

As an aside, there was one of those souvenir coin machines in the lobby.  You insert a penny and it turns it into a enlongated stamped medallion as a souvenir of your visit.  I like these things!

Animals made it into space before humans.

Armstrong was one of the Gemini 8 crew 3 years before he went to the Moon- here’s the actual space capsule.  It looks rather cramped!

Gemini 8 (officially Gemini VIII) was the sixth crewed spaceflight in NASA’s Gemini program, launched March 16, 1966. It was the twelfth crewed American flight and the twenty-second crewed spaceflight of all time. The mission conducted the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit, but suffered the first critical in-space system failure of a U.S. spacecraft which threatened the lives of the astronauts and required an immediate abort of the mission. The crew was returned to Earth safely.

This is Armstrong’s spacesuit he wore aboard Gemini 8.

He was picked for command of Apollo 11- the first Moom landing mission- because of his skillful handling of the Gemini 8 malfunction that could well have ended in death for the crew.

Armstrong flew the X-15 rocket plane as a test pilot.

This Aeronica Champion airplane was the very plane that Neil learned to fly in at age 15.

Unmanned spacecraft paved the way for manned missions.

The Apollo Program put Americans on the Moon, honoring John F. Kennedy’s goal to reach the Moon before 1970.

This flag went to the Moon and back with Apollo 11.

Neil’s Apollo spacesuit.

The entrance to the movie theater has a wild display surrounding you, like an infinite sea of stars in blackness.  It brought on vertigo, like the wild effects at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey!

The 25-minute film was very informative and interesting.

 

 

The Lunar Landing Simulator showed how well Neil landed manually after computer malfunctions- he landed with less than 30 seconds of fuel left.  Talk about the Right Stuff!

 

The Museum was a worthwhile visit.  If you are a space fan, you’ll really enjoy yourself here.

Thank you, Neil Armstrong and all of the people that got us to the Moon!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2019 5:47 pm

    Neil Armstrong visited Langholm which is in the heart of Armstrong country in the south of Scotland but as his visit came before we moved here, I never saw him in real life.

    • August 5, 2019 9:30 am

      I remember reading about his trip to the Old Country- he was a great and modest man. I doubt we’ll see his like again!

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