The Story of... Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon

This week, our Story of... is a look back to a documentary filmed about Neil Armstrong, billed as the Apollo 11 hero's first-ever television interview.

Born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, in 1930, Armstrong achieved his pilot's license aged 16 - before he could even drive. By the age of 21, he was flying combat missions over Korea.

Post-World War Two, Armstrong's exceptional flying skills led to him becoming a hotshot test pilot, flying the famous X15 at 4,000 miles per hour.


Armstrong, photographed while
still a test pilot in 1956

In a prelude of things to come, he successfully flew the X15 to the edge of Earth's atmosphere.

In 1957, while still grieving the death of his two-year-old daughter, Karen, from cancer, Neil Armstrong was accepted into the US Air Force's "Man In Space Soonest" program.

His first space mission was in 1966, aboard Gemini 8, during which Armstrong nearly lost his life when his tiny capsule spun out of control.

The brave pilot cheated death yet again a year later while test flying an experimental aircraft designed to simulate a lunar landing.

On that occasion, he ejected barely 100 feet from the ground. Having cheated death, Armstrong reportedly returned straight to his office to complete his paperwork.

Armstrong was among many other astronauts in NASA's space program who had "the right stuff." Yet it was his depth of experience and nerves of steel which earned him the command of Apollo 11.

The above video ends with Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins returning to Earth and massive celebrity, including meeting Queen Elizabeth II and invites to the White House.

Forever uncomfortable with the celebrity his Apollo 11 achievements attracted, Armstrong stopped signing autographs in the early 1990s.


Neil Armstrong's signed cheque, sold for $27,350

He found out they were simply being sold for profit and decided he didn't want to be involved - a decision which, of course, paradoxically increased their value.

It is also understood that Armstrong's discovery that his barber was selling off-cuts of his hair for $3,000 contributed to the decision.

Today, Neil Armstrong's signature is the most valuable in the world, often valued at £5,000 ($7,500).

Recent auction sales have included Armstrong's signature on a bank cheque, sold for $27,350 - over 50 times its estimate.

 

 


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