Moon landing anniversary revives memories

The 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon has revived some fond recollections from a former local who still has a treasured memento of the occasion.

Frank Fisher has now enjoyed five decades in aviation himself, but back then he was just a starry-eyed country boy watching history unfold on a crackly TV at his Frances home.

This Saturday will be 50 years to the day since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed and walked on the moon, on July 20, 1969.

Frank writes: "Re Apollo 11 moon landing, I have a document from NASA concerning this historic event 50 years ago.

I had 50 years in aviation, attaining an International Transport Pilot Licence and International airline career (Still, from my humble beginnings at Frances I can't believe I made it; if only my international passengers knew I was trained as a shearer?).

My first solo flight was at Naracoorte on June 22, 1969, approved by Barry Ryan from Mundulla, a flying instructor from Wimmera Aero Club from Nhill, Victoria who taught me to fly.

I was met by my lifelong friend Kerry Pfitzner at the tarmac, after safely returning to Australia's "Terra Firma" ("The more the firmer, the less the terror!").

On July 20, 1969, a man who grew up on a farm in USA without power, like I did on my humble little farm, just in Victoria 7 miles from Frances, etched those famous words in the history of mankind's incredible space pioneering accomplishment for all humanity.

Commander Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins of the Apollo 11 Space Odyssey, travelled 826,300 miles to land the Eagle on the Sea of Tranquility on the moon.

I stayed up all night, that fateful night and watched a snowy, crackly old black and white TV, barely showing images as Commander Armstrong manipulated the Eagle over rocks to touch down safely, with minimum fuel for launch on board. Then to hear the words the "Eagle has Landed" relayed through the dish at Parkes to Houston then back to Australia's TV network to our farm at Frances, for me with tears of joy ran to mum and dad's bedroom and say "They've landed on the Moon!"

I found a writing pad and biro and wrote a letter of congratulations to Commander N Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins, congratulating them on their incredible monumental pioneering aviation achievement, simply out of our world.

I had just learnt to land on Australian soil in Naracoorte and you landed on the moon.

I addressed it Commander Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 to NASA, Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, Florida USA, not knowing their address (didn't have Google then).

I never told anyone, just gave to George Hicks, post master at Frances to post. He looked at me and smiled, then said "I'll send it, Frank". A kind man!

I never expected or thought what would happen next. Some days later, I received a hand-typed letter back from NASA to our Box 10 Frances address.

I was and still am today, 50 years hence, amazed at their kind gesture to return this thank you to a nobody in Australia, with a dream to fly, after what they had achieved for all of us in the world.

"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

It inspired me to never give up no matter how many times I failed!"