So he’s not really from the world of science fiction, but he might as well have been. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to have been the first man to step foot on the moon. As achievements go, it’s not really one any of us can ever conceive of equalling. It’s rather humbling just to know someone like Neil Armstrong even lived in our lifetime and if you’re not old enough to remember the moon landings, it might even be hard to imagine that we put people up there on a fairly regular basis, once upon a time. Armstrong wasn’t just someone who happened to be in the right place at the right time, riding the product of other people’s work into history books. He was an extraordinarily skilled pilot whose last minute decisiveness prevented the mission from being aborted while the LEM was under his manual control. While Armstrong had only rated the mission as having a 50-50 chance of success, it’s interesting that he only gave himself and his crew a 90% chance of returning successfully to Earth. Sounds a lot but most of us like to give ourselves better chances than that before we embark on a trip to the office, otherwise we just wouldn’t go.
Despite his iconic status, Neil Armstrong managed to live a fairly private life, allowing Buzz Aldrin to be the “public face” of that first mission to the surface of the moon. He shunned publicity and declined to join political causes. He refused autographs, disapproving of the money they were changing hands for; he even entered into a legal battle with his barber for selling his hair without his permission. Rarely giving interviews he surprised and puzzled many by doing precisely that last year for the Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia, of all people. This was apparently explained by his father being an auditor, but one cannot help but feel that such an enigmatic choice was typical of the man.
Neil Armstrong passed away on 25th August 2012 following complications from heart surgery.
Starburst salutes someone for whom the words “legendary” and “icon” are simply inadequate.