Monday, July 21, 2008

My 50th Birthday Cake

My wonderful wife Elyn and my incredible sister Desiree, threw me a surprise 50th birthday party at one of my favorite restaurants, the Hobbit.
10 of us got to sit in the wine cellar where you can get loud, unlike the rest of the place where you need to keep it down.
After dinner, they brought out this amazing cake that my wife had made for me. She drove all over LA to pickup the Apollo CSM & LM with the astronauts. When the cake maker asked if she wanted to put a space shuttle on the moon with 6 astronauts that came in the package, she said, "the space shuttle never went to the moon, there were never more than 2 men on the moon at one time and if this cake isn't historically correct, I'll never hear the end of it". The only mistake on the entire cake is that both astronauts have red stripes on their EVA suits, but regardless, it's the best cake I've ever had.

Abraham Lincoln 1900 Champlain Courthouse Stained Glass Window

This beautifully hand painted Lincoln stained glass window was made in 1900-1901 for the Champlain, Ill courthouse. 1/2 of the courthouse was destroyed by the fire in 1949 and this window was removed by a gentleman who was on the demolition crew.
Eventhough it's not space related, Lincoln is one of my hero's and I thought I'd share it.

Dylan with Bob Crippen at SETP

Here is the most beautiful boy in the world with one of the nicest guys I've ever met, Robert Crippen. Robert Crippen was 1 of the 2 astronauts that flew the first space shuttle mission in Columbia, with his crewmate John Young. Bob Crippen also commanded STS-7, 41C and 41G, traveling more than 9 million miles in space. He commanded missions that included the first American woman in space, flying the first MMU mission with Bruce McCandless being the first untethered person to fly in space, the first use of the Canadarm in space, the first satellite retrevial & repair in orbit and flying the first 7 man crew in space. He went on to become deputy director of shuttle operations, KSC director and other vice president positions with aerospace companies. He is truly a class act from start to finish, as most of the astronauts we've been lucky to meet.
I took Dylan to the 2007 Society of Experimental Test Pilots annual meeting at Disneyland. Dylan drew pictures, read and waited for 3.5 hours, while 7 white papers were presented by some of the most extraordinary men in aviation history. We were able to meet and speak with Neil Armstrong, Robert Crippen, Mike Melville, Dick Rutan, Bill Dana and a lot of long time test pilots.
After taking Dylan to meet Neil Armstrong, I noticed Robert Crippen in the room and was very excited to meet Crippen. As I was explaining to my son who Robert Crippen was, Crippen took Dylan over to a table and was reading to him, with Crippen spending about 5 minutes with my boy. When I asked Crippen if I could take a photo with Dylan & him, my son threw his arm over Crippen's shoulders like they were old friends and you can see the results. Robert Crippen was gracious enough to sign this photo for Dylan, when I had it printed and sent to him for an autograph.

SETP with Dylan and Neil Armstrong

Santa Poster

Santa Poster

Santa Poster

Santa Poster

Santa Poster

Christmas 1961 One of a Kind Poster Signed by Mercury 7 and New Nine Astronauts

This is an extraordinary one of a kind autographed poster of Santa Claus that was drawn in late 1961. It's signed by the Mercury 7 and the New Nine group of astronauts, plus Shorty Powers, who was the PAO and voice of the Mercury mission control .
The artist is Grant Lathe, who was a NASA graphic artist from 1960-1986 and I bought his entire collection of artwork, vintage signed photos, concept drawings, NASA books and materials from his family at the 2006 San Antonio UACC show.
This poster is hand drawn by Grant, I'm assuming that he came up with the caption while listening to the Mercury astronauts talk about how to safely orbit the earth.
This is one of my favorite pieces in my collection and it's a unique piece of space history.

Neil Armstrongs InFlight Garment Trousers Used During the Training for Apollo 11

Here is Buzz Aldrin (left), Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins relaxing during water egress training for the Apollo 11 mission. The pants that Neil Armstrong is wearing in the photo, are the same ones in my collection.

Armstrong Pants, Earliest Known Set Made, According To Smithsonian Curator

Neil Armstrongs InFlight Garment Trousers Used During the Training for Apollo 11

Here is one of 3 pairs of "Inflight Coverall Trousers" that were made for Neil Armstrong. These are the pants that Neil used during his training for Apollo 11 and the set of inflight garments consisted of a lightweight long sleeve jacket, these pants and a pair of booties. They're made of a ripstop nylon material, that is softer than beta cloth, very comfortable to wear and they were worn when not in their A7L/B EVA suits.

After speaking with the Smithsonian curator of space suits Amanda Young, she confirmed that they are indeed the pants made for Neil Armstrong and they are the earliest serial number Apollo inflight garments known to exist. Previously Walt Cunningham's set was the earliest serial number known and that his set is SN-1005.

The set of inflight garments that Neil wore on the moon, serial number 1038, are in the Smithsonians collection. I purchased this set of pants from the family of the woman who was in charge of cleaning and repairing all of the EVA spacesuits and inflight garments for the Gemini, Apollo and early shuttle astronauts.

My son Dylan wore these pants to school for career day, along with a flight helmet, so he could impress all the 1st grade girls that he was going to be an astronaut. I let him wear the pants for about 1 hour, then I took them home. He asked me why he couldn't keep them on all day, so I told him that he was wearing a years worth of his college fund and if he destroyed them, he'd be going to plumbing school, instead of Princeton or Stanford.

Whenever I do school presentations, these pants are the one thing that every kid wants to touch and it's very funny when I have the teacher put them on in front of the class.

Notarized letter from the family on file.

Vintage Resin with Gemini 4 & 7, Apollo 7, 11, 12 & 15 Flown Artifacts

This is a very rare vintage resin presentation that was made by Dr. Robert Jones, who was the co-inventor and co-patent holder for the Apollo A7LB space suit bubble helmet. Dr. Jones worked with NASA for many years before opening his own business in Texas named Bright Jones International and he passed away in the 1990's. I bought this from an Ebay auction, after Mr. Bearden contacted me, a few hours before the auction closed.

Dr. Jones was hired by Mr. C. Ray Bearden, who was the VP of Chiles Offshore Drilling Inc, to train offshore oil platform workers. Dr. Jones made up 2 resin displays for Mr. Bearden in the early 1980's, with space flown artifacts from his collection, of the Gemini 4 & 7, Apollo 7, 11, 12 & 15 missions. There is a chart on the back that shows what piece was flown on each mission, with the 2 bolts being flown on Gemini 4 & 7.
Mr. Bearden's wife gave these 2 resin displays away to Goodwill in 1996, when they moved from Houston to Austin, after Mr. Bearden retired. I was able to track down Mr. Bearden through his old oil company connections. After talking with Mr. Bearden, he confirmed that these were authentic pieces from Dr. Jones, but he thought they were still in storage. After talking to his wife, she told him that she gave them away when they moved.
Mr. Bearden had the utmost admiration and respect for Dr. Jones, he cherished the 2 resin pieces that Dr. Jones made for him, but was happy that it was in a collection where it would be shared at presentations for school kids. Mr. Bearden wrote me a very nice letter stating the history of this piece.

9 Pieces of Apollo 11 CM Flown Hardware by Mike Riley at NAA

This is a vintage resin that was made in 1969 by Mike Riley and it contains 9 parts from the Apollo 11 command module. Mike Riley made hundreds resin pieces that have flown pieces embedded in them, during his time at North American Aviation during the Apollo program.

I purchased a large collection of Apollo artifacts from the family of a woman who was a secretary at North American Aviation from 1961-76. She worked closely with all of NAA management, the astronauts and VIP's coming into Downey.

The family sold me artifacts over a 3-4 month period and the final bunch of things I bought, were negatives, photos, her ID cards, paperwork and misc notes. One of the notes was typewritten and it says,
" Dear Yvonne, enclosed is a resin display containing 9 pieces from the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, that carried Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin to mans first steps on the moon. July 1969. Enjoy this piece as a token for all of your hard work that made this mission a success. Very Sincerely, Mike Riley".

I went through the collection of resin & lucite pieces, but there was nothing that came close to a resin that had 9 parts embedded in it. I called the family, but they said they didn't know anything about it, so I figured they gave it away or kept it. I was checking out this family's Ebay auctions and about 1 month later, this resin came up for sale.

They posted it as containing 9 flown pieces from the Apollo 11 command module, but they had no proof of it's history, because I had the proof with this letter from Mike Riley. They listed it for $9.95 and I ended up buying it for $10.50 because nobody believed that this was was, what it really was. I was sweating like a 500 pound guy in Las Vegas, in August, sitting in a hot car at high noon, eating the spiciest food you can find. You should have heard me scream like a mental patient when I won it.

I asked the family why they didn't contact me about selling it, they said they were afraid to let me know because they didn't know what it was worth. Suffice it to say that I would have paid a great deal more for this piece and now I'm debating about breaking up the resin and making new displays for the 9 pieces.

It is the best buy I've ever made since starting to seriously collect space artifacts in 2003.

2 Silver Snoopy Pins Flown on Apollo 9 & 11 and 3 Turtle Pins Flown on Apollo 7

I bought these 2 Silver Snoopy pins and the 3 turtle pins from the family of a woman who was a liason secretary at North American Aviation from 1961-1976. This woman was presented Silver Snoopy awards for her work on Apollo 9 and Apollo 11 missions. The 3 turtle pins were flown on the Apollo 7 mission by Wally Schirra and it comes with a note from Wally thanking this woman for all of her hard work in making the Apollo 7 a success. Wally was a long time Turtle, he was proud to be a high potentate Turtle and flew these 3 turtles for this secretary.

I bought this collection over a 4 month period from the family and these were in the last grouping of pieces I obtained. Along with these 5 pins, were also a large pile of notes, papers, negatives, vintage resins with flown material in them and lots more. When I developed the negatives, there was a beautiful photo of the Apollo 9 crew presenting this woman with her Silver Snoopy award. The Silver Snoopy is given to civilian workers that have made a significant contribution towards the success of that particular mission and it is a huge honor for an aerospace worker to receive one.
Normally there is only 1 Silver Snoopy awarded to an individual, but the family told me that they were in attendance at both the Apollo 9 and Apollo 11 presentations, that were held in the executive offices at North American Aviation, where they met both crews. Hopefully they'll find the photo of this woman with the Apollo 11 crew, receiving her Silver Snoopy.

Apollo 11 Flown Piece of SWC Experiment

Apollo 7 Flown Heatshield Ablator Bottom Plug 1 of 10

Here is a 1968 vintage resin display of a complete bottom heatshield plug from the Apollo 7 command module, which was the first manned mission of an Apollo spacecraft. The mission was flown by Wally Schirra, Walt Cunningham and Don Eisle and the flight was such an overwhelming success, that it gave NASA the confidence to fly the next mission, Apollo 8, to orbit the moon, the following Christmas.

These full bottom heatshield plugs were used to cover over the bolts that attached the heatshield to the bottom of the command module and there were only 10 of these displays made up for VIP's. It is one of the rarest of all the flown resin presentations made up by North American Aviation.

Apollo 9 Flown Heatshield Ablator Cut 1/6 Bottom Plug

This is a mint condition vintage 1969 resin display that contains a 1/6th section of a large heatshield bottom plug, that was used to cover over the bolts holding the heatshield to the Apollo 9 command module Gumdrop. The mission was flown by James McDivitt, Dave Scott and Rusty Schweickhart for the first flight in space of the Lunar Module. This resin was made by North American Aviation to give away to the astronauts, NAA and NASA management, workers and other VIP's.

The rule of thumb is that the larger the section of heatshield plug in the resin display, the more important the person. There were 10 full uncut plugs put in resin displays from most of the missions and they went to the most important people, followed by 1/2 cut plugs, 1/4 and 1/6 cut plugs, that were put into resin displays.

Apollo 11 Flown Ablator Electric Cover Plug

Apollo 11 Flown Heatshield Ablator Cover Plug

This is a vintage resin that has a flown Apollo 11 ablator plug embedded in it. There were 400-500 of these small plugs on the Apollo spacecraft, they were used to protect the access points that were needed to be reached while the command module was under construction. Usually these small plugs covered holes in the heatshield. where electronic equipment couldn't be covered up. until the spacecraft construction was completed and tested.

AS201 Flown Apollo Heatshield 6" x 3"

This is a very large piece, 6" x 3", of the AS201 heatshield from the bottom of the first Apollo spacecraft to fly in space. What is great about this piece is the honeycombed aluminum structure under the heatshield and that this one piece has 3 small threaded plugs.

AS201 Flown Apollo Heatshield 6" x 3"

Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Flown Checklist Page

This is a page from an Apollo 17 checklist that was flown to the surface of the moon, to the Taurus-Littrow area, by Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in 1972. I had this signed by Gene Cernan at the 2006 UACC show in San Antonio. COA Florian Noller

Wally Schirra & the Apollo 7 Seat Strut

This is Wally Schirra . Wally was an amazingly smart man, who was also one of the funniest guys I've met and was test pilots test pilot. He was one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, he was the only American to fly Mercury, Gemini & Apollo spacecraft missions and he was a hero in every sense of the word. I was privileged to meet and talk with Wally at a few events, he was truly a class act, especially when dealing with kids.

I remember asking Wally what he thought of the movie The Right Stuff, where his enormous contributions were competely ignored and he chuckled, then said, "it was Animal House in space". Obviously he didn't like that movie, mainly because it showed his friend Gus Grissom as a bumbling, panicked, hot headed imbecile, which was nothing like the man, who in fact is considered the best pilot & engineer of the Mercury 7.

This photo was taken at the San Diego Aerospace Museum when Wally was being presented his moon rock from NASA and he donated it to the museum. I have a lot of my rarest pieces on loan to the SDAM and I was invited to Wally's ceremony.

After the moon rock presentation, Wally was gracious enough to autograph and take a photo with the black & silver pipe that I'm holding. That black pipe is one of the 4 astronaut couch seat struts that helped support Wally, Walt Cunningham and Don Eisele during the Apollo 7 mission. Apollo 7 was the 1st Apollo manned mission, the mission went off perfectly with the crew validating all of the improvements made to the Apollo command module, after the Apollo 1 disaster. The mission was so successful, it allowed NASA to send the Apollo 8 crew to the moon.

This is one of my favorite pieces in my collection, I bought this from the family of the gentleman who helped train all of the astronauts and it comes with a letter of thanks from Wally in 1968. It turns out that because the Apollo 7 spacecraft was the first manned Apollo spacecraft to fly, the interior was literally taken apart to investigate every facet of the spacecraft.