Flight, Space, and The Apollo 8 Moonshot

Heritage Flight Museum presents Apollo 8 and Saving 1968

Flight, Space, and the Apollo 8 Moohshot, is written by Christine Blankenship, Publisher,  and is a reflection of a tour at the Heritage Flight Museum.

Published: Spring, 2024; Vibrant Senior Options Resource Guide Magazine

Flight Museums are about flying and the history of airplanes. However, our own local Heritage Flight Museum in Burlington, Washington, is all that and more. It is “A Brush with History.” With a backdrop of family, political, and cultural events of the 1960’s, this Museum brings you into the narratives of flight, space, and the Apollo 8 Lunar Mission.

The Year Nineteen Sixty-Eight

The Heritage Flight Museum displays a thread of history, depicting the 1960’s, specifically 1968. This was a year of civil unrest, violence, rebellion, and political discord. The continuing Vietnam War ramped up, as did opposition and protests throughout many US cities, and even around the world. Nineteen sixty-eight also saw two assassinations: That of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert Francis Kennedy. These events triggered more waves of protests, including the struggle against racial discrimination. In the backdrop was a lurking sense of the long Cold War and a Space Race with Russia. Seemingly, Russia had constant advantage, including Sputnik, the first Satellite mission to orbit the earth. Could the heart of America possibly be more troubled?

There is a Santa Clause

Breaking through such a dark year, on December 24, 1968, Jim Lovell famously announced, “Houston, please be informed there is a Santa Claus!”

The Apollo 8 crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders became the first humans to leave Earth and journey to the Moon! Apollo 8 reached the Moon and entered Lunar Orbit for ten orbits around the Moon. The men of Apollo 8 had traveled farther and faster than anyone in history. Borman, Lovell, and Anders were the first to see the far side of the Moon and to see the great blue and white earth from a vast, cosmic distance. For the record, Bill Anders took the famous picture of the “Earthrise” which became the most known photograph of the 20th Century.

The Astronauts’ December 24, 1968 message to Earth included a passage from Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth,” as Anders read. Borman ended the passage, adding “and from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.” Amongst the many telegrams of congratulations, NASA relayed one that says it all: “Apollo 8, you saved 1968!”

Heritage Flight Museum

Astronaut Bill Anders and his wife Valerie founded the Heritage Flight Museum in 1996. Family stories, the history of 1968, and the Apollo 8 Mission all contributed to this museum’s success.

Bill and Valerie’s sons, Greg Anders and Alan Anders, took active management roles in 2003, joining their parents to later expand and preserve the museum’s goal of honoring veterans and keeping history alive in a variety of ways. As you walk through the building, you will return to the cultural nuances of 1968. A wide mural gallery displays interesting reminders of the Apollo 8 Mission, such as Bill Anders uniform. On seeing technology, events, and people, we were reminded of how different things were. All these are a part of the story of family, work, and events of the time. On a tour with Greg Anders, we listened to stories from the perspective of Apollo 8 Astronaut families. The Heritage Flight Museum also displays Valerie’s personal, monthly calendar of family events leading up to the December 21 launch.

Speaking of launch, you will also watch a video of Walter Cronkite’s rendition of this event. The Heritage Flight Museum presents this moment in history well, from the Earth to the Moon!

 Fly Day and the Airplane Hangar

Apollo 8 is not the only highlight of The Heritage Flight Museum. With a rewarding walk through their vintage hangar, your tour guide will bring back the stories behind those planes. Be sure to join the museum on a “Fly Day” for an air show and tour of this vintage airplane collection.

See their website: www.heritageflight.org/hfm-events/fly-days for Fly Days and other tour dates. Visit the Heritage Flight Museum and be ready to enjoy some time well-spent!

Take note of the front cover of this current edition, as this is a picture of Bill Anders of Apollo 8, at center, with his two sons, Greg Anders on left and Alan Anders on right. This cover image was taken right after the three flew in a Three-Ship Flight Formation on Bill Anders’ 90th birthday!”

Kirk and Christine Blankenship, Publishers, Vibrant Senior Options, with information and stories told by Lieutenant Colonel Greg Anders (who served 23 years in the US Air Force), son of William “Bill” Anders – Astronaut and the photographer of Apollo 8, December 23,1968

In addition to a personal tour of the Heritage Flight Museum, the information in this article comes from common history and from Robert Kurson’s book, Rocket Men.

Volunteer Opportunities:

 Help carry on the heritage of flight and space exploration.

 Call: 360-424-5151 or visit www.heritageflight.org

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