Fifty years on, listener shares memories of Apollo 11 takeoff

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Those are the words that became etched into the history books when a team of astronauts, led by Commander Neil Armstrong, took the first steps on the moon in 1969.

Four days after taking off the Apollo Lunar Module of Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon.

This Saturday, 20 July will mark 50 years since Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon and today (Tuesday) marks half a century since the Apollo 11 blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

CapeTalk listener Vince was 24 at the time and fascinated by all things astronomical. He travelled to the United States for the momentous event.

He told Pippa Hudson it was a trip he had planned many years in advance.

In 1961, President Kennedy said by the end of the decade we'll have a man on the moon and I said to my dad, 'I want to be there!'

Vince O’Donaghue

After arriving in New York, Vince spent four days hitch-hiking down to the southern state of Florida.

The Apollo 11 spaceflight was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

Vince says the atmosphere was electric and something he'll never forget.

I was at a lookout point and there were about 2-million people in the local area. Everybody had portable radios and when the countdown started everybody started counting. It was hair-raising stuff.

Vince O’Donaghue

It was LOUD! You could feel the tremble...seeing the flames coming out the bottom...the lift-off!

Vince O’Donaghue

Listen below as Vince shares his personal story of watching the Apollo 11 take off from Cape Canaveral:


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