Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, died last Saturday at the age of 82. The pioneering American may be remembered as a humble hero, steering clear of the spotlight despite his monumental accomplishments, but the skilled spaceman was one tough man.
Before setting foot on the moon, the 38-year-old from Wapakoneta, Ohio, embarked on countless high-risk missions as a naval pilot in the Korean War and later as a test pilot for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the predecessor to NASA).
Here we take a look back at some of Armstrong’s boldest moves.
Date: September 3, 1951
Armstrong was flying a F9F Panther fighter bomber in the Korean war when he was hit by anti-aircraft fire. A portion of the jet's right wing was sliced after he struck a pole trying to regain control. After manoeuvring back to friendly territory, the skilled aviator ejected over land where he was scooped up by a roommate from flight school. Armstrong was just 21 years old.
Date: April 20, 1962
During testing of the X-15 (a plane that could hit speeds up to six times the speed of sound), Armstrong overshot the landing field at Edwards Air Force base in California. He was able to turn around and managed to land on a lakebed near the base, barely missing some Joshua trees.
Date: April 24, 1962
Just four days after the X-15 incident, Armstrong found himself in another sticky situation, this time while flying a T-33 training jet with passenger Chuck Yeager. Apparently, Yeager had warned him that the landing site, Smith Dry Ranch Lake, wasn't suitable for landing due to a recent rainstorm. But Armstrong insisted on flying and ended up getting stuck in the mud.
Source: The Daily Beast
Date: May 21, 1962
While attempting to land at Delamar Dry Lake, one of the designated emergency landing sites for the X-15, the landing gear of Armstrong's F-104 Startfighter began to retract. Armstrong aborted the landing and made an emergency landing at Nellis Air Force Base.
Date: March 16, 1966
In 1966, Armstrong took his first flight into space as the command pilot of Gemini 8. The mission was supposed to last three days. But less than 30 minutes after docking with another vehicle and only six hours into the mission, the spacecraft went into an uncontrolled spin. After stabilizing the capsule, Armstrong was forced to make an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean.
Date: May 6, 1968
One year before setting foot on the moon, Armstrong was nearly killed while test-driving the lunar landing research vehicle. He was able to jump out of the tumbling module mere seconds before it crashed to the ground and exploded in flames.
Source: Air & Space Magazine
Date: July 20, 1969
With less than 30 seconds of fuel left, Armstrong had to override auto-pilot on the Apollo 11 lunar module to avoid a field of large boulders before landing in a safe spot.
Source: The Economist
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