Astronaut Neil Armstrong grants rare interview to accountant

Published: Thursday, May 24 2012 2:39 p.m. MDT

Sometimes it pays to utilize family ties, and the fact that Neil Armstrong's father was an auditor helped Alex Malley, chief executive of Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia, land an interview with the famous astronaut.

According to The Atlantic, the last taped interview Armstrong gave was a 60 Minutes piece from 2005, making this new hour-long interview with CPA Australia something of a rarity.

The videos, posted on CPA Australia's website, are broken up into four parts, "Space Race," "Blast Off," "Giant Leap" and "Presidential Pride."

Armstrong said he had become fascinated by the world of flight as an elementary student and originally wanted to become an aeronautical designer. He flew 78 missions as a pilot during the Korean War and worked as a test pilot.

When President John F. Kennedy issued the challenge to go to the moon, Armstrong said, the U.S. had thus far only managed to send Alan Shepard 100 miles above the surface of the Earth for 20 minutes.

"The gap between 20 minutes, a 20-minute up and down flight, and going to the moon was something almost beyond belief, technically," Armstrong said. But the challenge caught people's imaginations, making the trip to the moon possible.

During the Apollo 11 flight, Armstrong said he thought they had a 90 percent chance of getting back to Earth safely, but only a 50/50 chance of making the moon landing.

"There are so many unknowns on that descent from lunar orbit down to the surface that had not been demonstrated yet by testing and there was a big chance that there was something in there we didn't understand properly and we had to abort and come back to Earth without landing," Armstrong said.

In the videos, Armstrong details the moon landing, including "complaints" from a computer and a "very bad" landing location on the side of a crater that had been chosen by the computer. Armstrong eventually took over and landed manually. He said he didn't bother thinking of his famous words until after they landed because he wasn't sure they'd make it down to the moon in the first place.

It was the competition with the Soviet Union, Armstrong said, that helped provide the drive for the U.S. reach the moon.

"For people who are leaders or aspire to be leaders, listening to Neil Armstrong is far better than doing any educational MBA program that exists in the world today," Malley said.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS