As amazing as it sounds, only 66 years separate first flight from first human Moon landing.
Fifty years ago today, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched from the John F. Kennedy Space Center carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. The purpose of the Apollo 11 mission was to land humans on the Moon. The astronauts were permitted Personal Preference Kits, or PPKs, in which they could carry mementos or souvenirs of their flight. Neil Armstrong’s PPK contained remnants of fabric and the propeller of the Wright Flyer, the craft flown by Wilbur and Orville Wright when they took the first powered flights on December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Do you remember where you were on the centennial of that flight, December 17, 2003? How did you memorialize and celebrate this breathtaking achievement? An achievement that made the world smaller, brought people closer, and created an industry that today supports more than 58 million jobs. Air transportation is a major contributor to global economic prosperity, provides significant social benefit and greatly aids in search and rescue operations. You probably don’t think about the innovation, perseverance and persistence of the Wright Brothers when you board an airplane. I certainly don’t!
But thankfully, some people do. That’s why the flight path of the Wright Flyer, the site where humans first achieved powered flight is protected. I may not think about that first flight every day, but I did take my sons to Kitty Hawk and together we were inspired by human ingenuity.
In advance of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing on July 20, countless movies, books and articles share images, tell stories, offer insights and inspire awe and admiration. Consumer brands have jumped into the fray and companies are offering everything from cookies to donuts to special beers with campaigns and products that capitalize on the anniversary.
Will this happen in 2069? Will those of us who are still around find the centennial anniversary a cause for celebration? Or will the Apollo 11 lunar landing, like the Wright brothers’ first flight, have slipped in importance from our collective conscious? If we protect Tranquility Base it won’t matter. Because while we may not think about the first lunar landings every day, our progeny will be able to visit and draw inspiration from one of humanity’s greatest achievements.
We at For All Moonkind seek to preserve and protect our human in heritage in space, just as Wilbur and Orville Wright’s achievement was memorialized at Kitty Hawk.
Photo credit: Getty Images.