Working at a museum will most likely never land me on The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. However, I do get to attend cool events and meet extraordinary people. This past weekend was one of those times.
After the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Apollo 8 event back in December 2008, the USS Midway Museum wanted (begged us) to host one celebrating all of the early United States space exploration. Months of preparation resulted in The Race to the Moon weekend.
With eight astronauts and two NASA directors (one flight and one the actual director), the Museum needed escorts and so they asked me. I was assigned Al Worden (Apollo 15) and his wife Jill. Before the V.I.P.s even showed up we needed to prepare for the events with two walk-throughs. The first took place at the USS Midway. On Friday, we drove down to the USS Midway for Saturday night’s walk-through. The briefing only lasted a half-hour and we had some time to wander around. Rossco, a former Navy helicopter pilot and now coworker, took us on a short helicopter tour making sure to show us the first helicopter (not actually his helicopter) he regularly piloted.
After our tour, we still had time while the big-wigs finished and we decided to use the stage for our mock rock concert. Rossco took the picture you see below and I must say it is one of my favorites of all time.
The Warm Up Act for the Race to the Moon Event - The Air Guitaras
Once I finally landed back on the ground after my awesome air split, we headed back to the museum to change into our fancy clothing even though it was 900.2 degrees Fahrenheit with the air conditioning on! But, we had to look good for our V.I.P. guests.
Swanky Boardroom after Transformation
During the preparation walk-through for Friday night’s event, my V.I.P., Al Worden, showed up to the boardroom which now served as our green (more like blue) room after we removed all the heavy, and I mean heavy, tables and chairs. His early arrival meant that I did not have to do any escorting for another hour and a half.
With no escorting for a while, I wandered around the Museum sending out tweets, taking some pictures, and helping the astronauts sign all the things they needed to sign. 7:20 p.m. eventually rolled around and it was time to head down to all the anxiously awaiting guests and the much cooler pavilion.
Al and Jill Worden chatting with Jim McDivitt
First thing, Al Worden and I had to find his wife who he found chatting it up with Jim McDivitt (Gemini 4 and Apollo 9). I had to stay with them for most of the evening so the three of us grabbed some food and then sat down in the table area reserved for the astronauts. This was the best part of the night. Both Al and Jill are very chatty and just wanted to sit and talk. We stayed in the reserved table area chatting with each other and some other V.I.P.s until it was time for me to bring them to the reserved table area, oh wait, we were already there.
Will all the Astronauts and Flight Directors please stand up.
Once the nights presentation began, I relegated myself to the blue bench reserved for the escorts. From there I listened and tweeted some of the highlights from the moderated forum which you can read here. It was great to hear the stories from eight different astronauts and one flight director. Each one talked about his specific mission, the Apollo 1 disaster, and what is was like being the flight director during the Apollo 13 mission. An hour and a half was not enough to hear everything.
Once the forum ended, I whisked the Wordens away to the waiting town car which took them back to the hotel. I then grabbed two souvenir wine glass and coins and headed back upstairs to remove the now soaked-in-sweat jacket (time for a dry cleaning). After the drive home I relaxed in front of the air conditioner knowing that I would be doing it all over again the next night on the USS Midway (this time in a tuxedo).