This summer marks fifty years since the team from Apollo 11 landed on the moon, the first humans to do so. A friend of mine, Dave Giles, is absolutely obsessed with space. I don’t know anyone who loves it more than him, and he spent years planning a trip to the United States to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. In eighteen days, he visited fourteen states – his final day landing him in New York where my brother Peter and I met up with him to visit the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, NY.
Despite living on Long Island, I had never visited the Cradle of Aviation, so I was excited to go for the first time with someone like Dave – who I knew would make me appreciate everything so much more. Through him, and our visit, I learned that Long Island played a crucial role in the space program in their Grumman Lunar Module LM-13 exhibit. Grumman was a Long Island based company that designed, assembled and tested the Apollo Lunar Modules that successfully landed twelve men on the moon between 1969 and 1972. Of the ten Lunar Modules they built, three remain on earth, one being right here at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. This module, LM-13, [below] was built for Apollo 19 which was ultimately canceled. The museum now presents it as LM-5 would have appeared, which was used in the Apollo 11 mission. This section of the museum was what Dave had traveled to New York for.
Another highlight of our visit to the museum was their exhibit ‘SPACE: A Journey to Our Future.‘ It was an incredibly fun and massive exhibit, that took us through the history of flight and man’s earliest visions of space exploration. ‘SPACE’ was immersive and interactive, with many chances to engage with artifacts. I was also tickled as we walked through parts of the museum and could find hints of David Bowie around me — fitting, considering my Masters thesis is on him.
As I mentioned, my friend Dave really loves space. He’s also a very talented musician. On his most recent album, Tennessee & 48th, he has a lovely song called “Last Man on the Moon”; which is named after the astronaut Gene Cernan. You can listen to it here.