Yesterday Betsy and I spent a couple hours at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, birthplace of Neil Armstrong. The museum has a wide range of memorabilia from both Armstrong’s early life and the space program in general. Cool items included:
- Booklets where young Neil recorded his early flights. Dude got his pilot’s license when he was sixteen!
- Astronaut uniforms, astronaut food, and lots of other fun astronauty things.
- A postcard with Orville Wright’s autograph. Anyone else noticed that the first man to fly, and the first man on the moon, were both from Ohio? We rock!
But the crown jewel of the museum was the Gemini 8 spacecraft, which Armstrong piloted in the first-ever docking of two spacecraft in orbit. Look at that thing, and imagine two people spending days inside of it. I’m reading the autobiography of Mike Collins (Apollo 11 astronaut), who explained that you literally couldn’t get out of your seat, because there was nowhere to go.
The moon rock was cool too. And you can go inside that white dome, and there’s a 20-minute video focusing mostly on Apollo 11. I never realized how many close calls Armstrong had in his career: cutting his Gemini 8 flight short due to thruster failure, ejecting from a lunar lander test flight just before it was destroyed, and landing the Eagle on the moon with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining. Guy was intense.
And of course, no trip to the gift shop is complete without astronaut ice cream.
Not a bad place to visit for a town of 10,000 people.
Got any sweet museums in your area?