Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who conquered ‘Earthrise’, died in a plane crash

Bill Anders, who as an Apollo 8 astronaut was one of the first people to fly to the moon in 1968, was killed on Friday (June 7) when the vintage plane he was piloting crashed off the coast of the San Juan Islands in northwest Washington. Stands.

Anders, 90, was confirmed by his son as the pilot of the downed Beechcraft T-34 Mentor single-engine aircraft in a statement to the media.

“The family is devastated,” Greg Anders said. “He was a great pilot. He will be missed.”

“He traveled to the moon’s doorstep and helped us all see something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and purpose of exploration. We will miss him,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

The plane crash occurred at approximately 11:40 a.m. PDT (1840 GMT) off the coast of Jones Island in San Juan Channel, near Orcas Island where Anders lived. The aircraft was one of three Air Force trainers owned and operated by Anders’ Heritage Flight Museum in Burlington, Washington.

Video of the accident taken by local residents appeared to show Anders failing to pull up at the bottom of a loop and hitting the water.

Related: 50 years after ‘Earthrise’, a Christmas Eve message from the photographer

a man in a gray suit holds a model of a rocket

a man in a gray suit holds a model of a rocket

A member of NASA’s third group of astronauts selected in 1963, Anders’ only flight to space was as a lunar module pilot with the Apollo 8 crew. On December 21, 1968, Anders, along with mission commander Frank Borman and command module pilot James Lovell, became the first humans to launch a six-day mission around the moon on NASA’s Saturn V rocket.

Three days later, Anders and his crew entered lunar orbit, where they were the first to see our home planet appear from behind the moon’s horizon. Anders’ now iconic color photograph of “Earthrise” was seen as an inspiration for the environmental movement and was reproduced on a U.S. postage stamp.

“The most impressive aspect of the flight was [when] we were in orbit around the moon,” said Bill Anders in a 1997 NASA oral history. “We had gone backwards and upside down, not really seeing the Earth or the sun, and as we went around and around and the first Earthrise . That was certainly by far the most impressive thing, seeing this very delicate, colorful sphere – which looked like a Christmas tree ornament to me – appearing above this very stark, ugly moonscape.

Anders was also one of the first people to see the far side of the moon in person.

While splashing down in the North Pacific Ocean, Anders logged a total of six days, three hours and 42 seconds in space, including 20 hours during which he completed 10 orbits of the moon.

black and white photo of a man wearing a spacesuit, with his helmet offblack and white photo of a man wearing a spacesuit, with his helmet off

black and white photo of a man wearing a spacesuit, with his helmet off

William Alison “Bill” Anders was born on October 17, 1933 in Hong Kong, where his father was then stationed in the United States Navy.

As a child, Anders moved with his family to Annapolis, Maryland and then to China until 1937, when Japan invaded. He and his mother fled to the Philippines and were then reunited with his father, who was wounded during the war, in San Diego, California.

Anders graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. He was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, where he partially completed flight training on the T-34 Mentor. .

He earned his wings in 1956 and served as a fighter pilot with the 84th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron at Hamilton Air Force Base in California and the 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in Iceland.

In 1962, Anders earned a Master of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Anders then applied to both the US Air Force Aerospace Research Pilots School (ARPS) for test pilot training and to NASA to become an astronaut.

photo of the Earth in the distance with the gray dirt of the moon in the foregroundphoto of the Earth in the distance with the gray dirt of the moon in the foreground

photo of the Earth in the distance with the gray dirt of the moon in the foreground

Before flying Apollo 8, Anders served with Neil Armstrong on the backup crew of Gemini 11. He was then assigned to the third Apollo mission, which was planned as the second test of a lunar module in orbit. When the development of the lunar lander took a long time, NASA proposed sending Anders and his crew members around the moon so that the US would be ahead in the space race with the Soviet Union.

After returning from the moon, Anders served as backup to command module pilot Michael Collins during the Apollo 11 moon landing mission.

Feeling that his chances of walking on the moon were low, Anders left NASA in 1969 to become executive secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council. In 1973, he was appointed to the five-member Atomic Energy Commission, where he directed all nuclear and non-nuclear energy research and development. He was also appointed U.S. chairman of the nuclear fission and fusion energy technology exchange program with the Soviet Union.

In 1975, Anders was appointed the first chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. At the end of his term, he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Norway, a position he held until 1977.

After a brief stint as a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, Anders joined General Electric (GE) as vice president and general manager of the nuclear products division. In 1980, he became general manager of GE’s aircraft equipment division.

In 1984, Anders left GE and joined Textron, first as executive vice president of aerospace and then two years later as senior executive vice president of operations.

In 1988, Anders retired from the Air Force Reserves with the rank of major general.

In 1990, Anders became vice chairman of General Dynamics and chairman and CEO in 1991. He retired as CEO in 1993 and left the company in 1994.

Related: The Apollo Program: How NASA Sent Astronauts to the Moon

view from the cockpit of a pilot flying a small jet aircraftview from the cockpit of a pilot flying a small jet aircraft

view from the cockpit of a pilot flying a small jet aircraft


– Earth Day at 50: How Apollo 8’s ‘Earthrise’ photo sparked the first celebration

– Apollo 8: Everything you need to know

— Apollo 8 changed humanity’s vision of Earth forever

In retirement, Anders founded the William A. Anders Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit for educational and environmental issues, and the Heritage Flight Museum, where he and his family not only have a collection of historic aircraft, vehicles, artifacts and photographs managed, but also operated the aircraft and flew them at air shows and other locations.

For his contributions to the space program, Anders received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Collier Trophy and the Michael Collins (formerly National Air and Space Museum) Trophy. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1983, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame in 1990, the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997 and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2004.

In 2004, NASA named Anders a research ambassador and awarded him (in name only) a moon rock. Anders also has two craters named after him on the far side of the moon. The crater ‘Anders’ is located southeast of the outer edge of the Apollo basin and ‘Anders’ Earthrise’, which is visible in the astronaut’s photo of ‘Earthrise’.

Anders was portrayed by actor Robert John Burke in the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” and appeared as himself in the 2018 documentary “First to the Moon.”

Anders was married to Valerie Elizabeth Hoard in 1955 and they had six children together, Alan, Glen, Gayle, Gregory, Eric and Diana.

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