There was only one first man on the moon, and that was Ohio’s Neil Armstrong. When the astronaut and Apollo 11 commander put his left foot down on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, he summed up the achievement with his now-famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The world watched in wonder as the Eagle lunar module pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin joined Armstrong in planting the American flag, while the Columbia command module pilot Michael Collins orbited the moon and coordinated communications. After they completed their ground-breaking mission, the nation celebrated with massive parades and a blizzard of ticker tape. America’s new superheroes then became an international sensation during a whirlwind “Giant Leap” tour to more than 20 countries.
Millions of people cheered Armstrong and his crewmates, and they received honors including the French Legion of Honor, the Congo’s Order of the Leopard, and a private audience with Pope Paul VI.
Since July 20, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of Armstrong’s historic moon walk, Ohio is the perfect launchpad for Apollo 11 celebrations and commemorations.
In Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta, the Armstrong Air & Space Museum not only is debuting a new STEM Inspiration Center and two statues of Neil Armstrong, but also hosting everything from presentations by NASA astronauts to Lunar Rover demonstrations. The Armstrong Museum’s must-see exhibits include the bright yellow Aeronca Champion plane in which Armstrong learned to fly.
Just for fun, you also should check out Wapakoneta’s Summer Moon Festival, a downtown street fair featuring a beer garden, multiple concerts, and the world’s largest MoonPie. Don’ t miss the Moon Menu Trail featuring Cinnamoon pancakes and “Houston, we have a pot roast.” Hey, space explorers have to eat! There are plenty more fun ice cream flavors, microbrews and wines across the state as well.
Near Dayton, the National Museum of the United States Air Force aims to inspire future astronauts on July 20 with out-of-this world Family Day activities including an autograph session with astronaut Mark Brown at the Space Shuttle exhibit, virtual reality moon walks and lunar landing, programs about orbits and micro-gravity; building and launching model rockets; visiting with costumed Star Wars characters and more.
The Air Force Museum’s new space suit exhibit ranges from the Mercury to Space Shuttle eras, and its incomparable aircraft collection boasts two planes – the Bell X-5 and X-1B – that Armstrong flew during his test pilot days (nationalmuseum.af.mil).
The Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland houses the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, which is named for Ohio astronaut John Glenn and is one of only eleven NASA visitor centers in the United States.
During its family-friendly “Apollo 50 – Next Giant Leap” celebration, you can design your own space helmet, engineer a rocket, and view thrilling liftoff-to-landing footage of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins in the film, Apollo 11: First Steps Edition.
As a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland History Center likewise is treating visitors to a very special documentary – The Day We Walked on the Moon – on July 20. The Smithsonian Channel project offers behind-the-scenes stories and in-depth insights from the Apollo 11 astronauts, Mission Control personnel, and Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s children.
At the Cincinnati Museum Center, the new Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery celebrates the significance of Apollo 11 and includes an immersive, step-back-in-time theater experience that relives the hopes, fears, pride, and excitement the moon mission generated in 1969.
The gallery’s Apollo 11 artifacts include the jacket Armstrong wore under his space suit and a moon rock he collected at Tranquility Base and personally donated to Cincinnati Museum Center.
With its secluded location and minimal light pollution, the John Glenn Astronomy Park in Hocking Hills State Park is one of the best places in Ohio to keep an eye on the cosmos. During its Open House on July 20, the park also will present one of the best minute-by-minute re-creations of the sights and sounds of Apollo 11. From Armstrong’s first “small step” to his and Aldrin’s lunar departure, the Astronomy Park will broadcast audio recordings and project video images of the lunar module, the lunar surface, and mission control. Bonus: kids can play with a scale model of the lunar module, and if the weather is clear, you be able to stargaze in the observatory.
For more opportunities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and plan your To the Moon and Back Road Trip, check out Ohio.org. #FirstOnTheMoon #OhioFindItHere