Forty years ago today, man left for the first landing on the moon and I was there to witness it.
A friend of mine had somehow snagged two press passes to be in the press gallery at the launch of Apollo 11.
We flew down to Orlando the night before and drove in a rental car to Kennedy Space Center. Florida is quite flat and you could see the Vehicle Assembly Building from miles away. It looked tiny. We finally arrived at the launch area at about one o'clock in the morning. This is where the press was camping out. We stayed up all night, as there wasn't much else to do. I remember that the temperature dropped to about 90 degrees during the night.
The next morning, as the sun came up, so did the temperature. Some manufacturer was handing out these cardboard giveaways that you could punch out and fold a bit to become sun visors, and they were greatly appreciated. There was a rope line by a little canal that marked the edge of where we were allowed to wander. We were fairly close to the Vehicle Assembly Building. It looked huge. The launch tower was probably a mile or so away. It was hard to judge distances.
People were starting to arrive. Spiro Agnew was in the grandstand behind us, and Walter Cronkite was in a big plywood construction that gave the appearance of a studio to the TV cameras while giving a view of the launch site behind him. We talked with some of the other photographers that we knew.
The rocket left for the moon right on schedule, at about half past nine. There were no delays in the countdown. Up close, the noise was awesome.
About half an hour later, we got back into our rental car to begin the trip back to New York City.
As a tribute to the Apollo Astronauts, I am posting these pictures of the moon as the rest of us earthbound folks see it and look upon it with wonder.