First Man: The Spiritual (But Not Religious) Life of Neil Armstrong

Anxious Bench | 10/23/2018 | Staff
Matty123 (Posted by) Level 3
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On September 27, 1969, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) named the 67-year old Charles Lindbergh an honorary fellow, and invited him to address its banquet in Beverly Hills, California. Well into his latter-day career as an advocate for environmental protection, Lindbergh issued a warning:

We cannot escape the fact that while science, industry, and commerce are progressing, the environment of life is breaking down. We pilots have had an unique opportunity to watch this breakdown — the stripping of forests, the erosion of land, the pollution of water and air; the destruction of cities at one time and place, and their megalopolizing at another…. We now find that the expanding frontiers of aviation have overtaken the evolving frontiers of life, and that failure to integrate the two would almost certainly be catastrophic.

Pilots - Night - Mate - Astronaut - Neil

Among the “we pilots” he addressed that night was his table mate: astronaut Neil Armstrong, just two months removed from becoming the first human being to set foot on the Moon. We don’t know much of what two of the most famous Americans of the 20th century discussed that night, but Armstrong’s hero reportedly shared one piece of advice: never sign autographs.

Charles Lindbergh (2nd from left) and Neil Armstrong (2nd from right) at the September 1969 SETP banquet. Photo used by permission of Reeve Lindbergh, from the Charles Augustus Lindbergh papers (MS 325). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Armstrong - Biographer - James - Hansen - Men

According to Armstrong’s authorized biographer, James Hansen, the two men had first met a year before, just before Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to reach and orbit the Moon. Armstrong gave Lindbergh and his wife Anne a tour of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. They remained correspondents, with Lindbergh later asking Armstrong if he “felt on the Moon’s surface as I did after landing at...
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