RIP Neil Armstrong

Posted by Ken Campbell August 26, 2012 1 Comment 1156 views
The first solo flight across the Atlantic happened in 1927. Charles Lindbergh was the pilot who made the trip, from Long Island to a little field outside of Paris, and when he landed, over 100,000 people were there to greet him. Nobody remembers the second person who did it.
We do remember the third solo flyer to cross the pond though, and that name has also entered common historical knowledge: Amelia Earhart. Of course, we don’t think of her as the third to fly across, we think of her as the first woman to do it. 
Others came after Lindbergh and Earhart. Some did it faster, at higher altitudes, using different fuels. There were those who followed who could say that they did it “better,” but they would never be able to say they did it first. We don’t remember the others, for the most part; we remember the ones who got there before anybody else, the ones who set the bar the first time. 
One of the greatest died yesterday. Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, the one that almost everyone still thinks of when they think of an astronaut. He was 82. Others came after him, but even the most dedicated among us would be lucky to remember more than two or three of their names, if that many. Armstrong was first. 
Thousands of people fly across the ocean every day now, and many of them have no one there to greet them when the arrive at their destination. Times change. 
I don’t know that Lindbergh was the greatest at crossing the ocean. It may well be that some of the Apollo jockeys that followed Armstrong were better at being space travelers than he was. It doesn’t matter… they were the first. The “best” is something that changes from time to time, as each new level of greatness is reached and then surpassed. “First” is forever. 
(For those who are interested, the second to fly solo across the Atlantic was an Aussie by the name of Burt Hinkler. His is an amazing story as well, but it will have to wait for another time.)

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