Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who captured ‘Earthrise’, was killed in a plane crash

Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who 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 . States.

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

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

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

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

A video of the crash taken by local residents appeared to show Anders failing to pull up at the bottom of a bend and impacting the water.

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

a man in a gray suit holds a model rocket

a man in a gray suit holds a model rocket

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

Three days later, Anders and his colleagues entered lunar orbit, where they were the first to see our home planet emerge from the lunar horizon. Anders’ iconic color photograph of “Earthrise” was credited with inspiring the environmental movement and reproduced on a United States postage stamp.

“It was the most impressive aspect of the flight [when] we were orbiting the moon,” said Bill Anders in a 1997 NASA oral history. “We were going backwards and upside down, we didn’t really see the Earth or the sun, and when we rolled around and came around and saw We are the first riser of land. That was definitely the most impressive thing in a long time, this very fine, colorful orb – which looked like a Christmas tree ornament – ​​coming up over this ugly lunar landscape.”

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

Splashing down in the North Pacific, Anders logged a total of six days, three hours and 42 seconds in space, including 20 hours completing 10 lunar orbits.

a black and white photo of a man wearing a space suit, and his helmet of mea black and white photo of a man wearing a space suit, and his helmet of me

a black and white photo of a man wearing a space suit, and his helmet of me

William Alison “Bill” Anders was born on October 17, 1933, in Hong Kong, where his father was then stationed with the US 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 then reunited with his father, who had been wounded in the war, in San Diego, California.

Anders graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1955. He was then commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force, where he underwent flight training, in part, 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 received 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 the United States Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS) for test pilot training and to NASA to become an astronaut.

a photograph of the distant world with the gray dirt of the moon in the foregrounda photograph of the distant world with the gray dirt of the moon in the foreground

a photograph of the distant world with the gray dirt of the moon in the foreground

Before flying on Apollo 8, Anders served with Neil Armstrong on the backup crew for Gemini 11. He was then assigned to the third Apollo mission, which was planned as the second test of a lunar module in Earth orbit. When the development of the lunar lander was well under way, NASA proposed to send Anders and his crew around the moon instead, ensuring that the USA was ahead in the space race with the Soviet Union.

After returning from the moon, Anders served as backup to command module pilot Michael Collins on the Apollo 11 lunar 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 was in charge of all nuclear and non-nuclear power research and development. He was also named the US chairman of the nuclear fission and fusion power technology exchange program with the Soviet Union.

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

After serving briefly as a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, Anders joined General Electric (GE) as vice president and general manager of its 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 for 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, in 1991, chairman and chief executive officer. He resigned as CEO in 1993 and left the company in 1994.

Related: The Apollo Program: How NASA sent astronauts to the moon

a view from inside the cockpit of a pilot flying a small jeta view from inside the cockpit of a pilot flying a small jet

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


— Earth Day at 50: How the Apollo 8 ‘Earthrise’ photo helped inspire the first celebration

— Apollo 8: Everything you need

— Apollo 8 changed humanity’s vision of Earth forever

In retirement, Anders founded the William A. Anders Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization for educational and environmental issues, and the Heritage Aviation Museum, where he and his family maintained a collection of aircraft, vehicles, artifacts, and not only historical photographs. also worked the planes, flying them at air shows and other venues.

For his contributions to the space program, Anders was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service medal, the Collier Trophy and the Michael Collins Trophy (formerly the National Air and Space Museum), among other honors. 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 an Ambassador for Exploration and presented him (in name only) with a moon rock. Anders has named two craters for him on the far side of the moon. “Anders” crater is southeast of the outer rim of the Apollo basin and “Anders’ Earthrise,” seen in the astronaut’s photo of “Earthrise.”

Actor Robert John Burke portrayed Anders 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 married Valerie Elizabeth Hoard in 1955 and together they had six children, Alan, Glen, Gayle, Gregory, Eric and Diana.

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