Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk remembered
Half a century has passed — but the moment Moon pioneer Neil Armstrong took his historic first step on the lunar surface is etched in the memories of those who tuned in.
The grainy pictures coming back on the night of July 20, 1969, from a quarter of a million miles (380,000 kilometres) away fascinated viewers young and old.
AFP spoke to some, who recalled their joy and emotion, including Dafydd Williams, now a Canadian astronaut with NASA who has twice been into space — in 1998 and 2007 but who was a schoolboy back then.
“It was a pretty remarkable day. The sixties was this decade of exploration and the highlight of the decade was humans walking on the surface of the Moon.
“If you were alive at that time, everybody remembers where they were.
“I was fifteen years old at the time, at home watching it with my family glued to the television set, which was black and white because we didn’t have money to afford a colour TV.
“It changed the course of history and for me it demonstrated the fact that the seemingly impossible is actually possible.
“Watching NASA going from never having flown humans in space in 1960 to have humans walking on the surface of the Moon in 1969… what an incredible decade!”
Formula One champion Stewart was a friend of Armstrong and also of Eugene Cernan, the last man to date to walk on the Moon in December 1972.
“I was in the Playboy Club in New York with Roman Polanski and my wife Helen. I knew a lot of the astronauts because they were coming to see Formula One and Indycar races. I was blown away by what I was seeing,” said Stewart, who with his son Mark produced a 2014 documentary, “Last Man on the Moon.”
“I was in Normandy on that night of July 20-21,1969. I was shooting the Bear and the Doll,” recalled the French screen icon.
“I watched this miracle without really believing it, it was so extraordinary, unachievable — and yet they did it.
“Human genius can reach the divine.
The composer of electronic music watched the broadcast live and recalls “celebrating the era when we had a vision and an appetite for the future — it was an absolute inspiration for musicians, filmmakers and writers. Pop culture was born at the same time as the beginning of the conquest of space.”