August 29, 2012
“The first thing I always heard about Neil Armstrong was what a down to earth person he was. That’s very uncommon among fighter pilots, who require a healthy dose of ego and the “right stuff” to survive. He was one of my childhood heroes and I distinctly remember listening, riveted to the radio, as he and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the Sea of Tranquility. They may have landed in a tranquil place, but it certainly wasn’t tranquil back here on Earth. We sweated through the alarms as the hopes of our troubled Nation descended with the Eagle, attempting to land against all odds. Then those immortal words: “Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.”
Wow, we put a man on the moon!
It was many years before I had the opportunity to meet Neil Armstrong and express my admiration for what he had accomplished, for the inspiration he provided in my life. That’s when I learned that his legendary humility was sincere. He really just wanted to be a peer, not a hero. We chatted comfortably about flying the F-106, an experience we both shared. It’s still my all-time favorite ride. And I passed greetings along from our common friend, Lee Robbins, whom he remembered well from their time together at NBAA. Shaking the hand of the first man to set foot on the moon was a magic moment that I will always cherish.
So it was with shock and special sadness that I learned of his passing. Now, in the words of Johnny Cash, Neil Armstrong “fly’s a starship across the universe divide”. But he will return, again and again and again. You got it right, Neil: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Thank you for all you did for all of us!”
-Mike Hall, President/CEO of Wings of Eagles Discovery Center