Neil Armstrong Remembered

Neil Armstrong  (1930-2012)

Armstrong taught at UC for nearly a decade in the 1970s, creating courses such as aircraft design and flight navigation operations. He did it with the same humility and quiet dedication that marked his private life.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." With that, Neil Alden Armstrong made history as the first man on the moon.

"While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”  - statement and request of the Armstrong family.

UC Magazine Feature Story by Deborah Rieselman

Eulogy for Neil Armstrong by Rob Portman, US Senator from Ohio

Neil Armstrong

American astronaut Neil Alden Armstrong Photo courtesy of NASA


►One day I took my grade school-age daughter to UC with me. We happened to run into Neil Armstrong. Neil knew who I was but we had had only brief professional contact and no personal contact. Yet in front of my daughter Neil acted as if I was his best friend. My daughter still talks about the day she met Neil Armstrong. It was a great accomplishment to walk on the moon but Neil's humility and conduct afterwards made him a great man.

Max Brown
Professor Emeritus

► ... It soon became clear that we needed to protect him from other similar incidents. We assigned a secretary (Elaine Moore) in an anteroom to take requests for autographed photographs. All a person needed to do was provide Elaine with a name and perhaps a short courteous inscription. Then each morning Neil would inscribe and sign a stack of photographs as requested.

Neil enjoyed teaching and as far as is known he was a very good teacher – well liked by the students. Nevertheless, I believe he missed flying. He soon became close friends to Professor Robert (Bob) Kroll who was a pilot and flight instructor. (Bob was a Professor of Aerospace Engineering.) Several afternoons each week Neil and Bob would go flying. Bob probably knew Neil better than any other person here at UC...  (full text)

Ron Huston
Professor Emeritus of Mechanics

► "What Neil taught us is that if you have the desire, anything is possible," he said. "I think what the students can learn from him is if you put math and science into practice, you will be able to accomplish a lot -- accomplish things that can help mankind -- that help society advance forward."

Teik C. Lim
Interim Dean, CEAS

Neil Armstrong

Professor Neil Armstrong joins paper airplane contest

► Ralph Spitzen happened to be snapping pictures for his aero engineering club in 1974 when Neil Armstrong made a surprise appearance.

One of UC's aerospace engineering professors and the first man to ever walk on the moon, Armstrong stopped by to try his hand at the paper airplane contest that UC's student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics hosted every year. The contest, in the Armory Fieldhouse that year, had simple rules: Fold your best plane, step up to the rail and launch it across the gym...  (Full UC Magazine article)

Ralph Spitzen
UC Alumnus

► My classmates and I speculated that Neil grew up with two dreams.   The first was to be a farmer.  The other – to fly – took him on the journey of Apollo 11 atop the shoulders of a Team of 400,000 people and the aspirations of countless others.  The historic proportions of this voyage were entered over forty years ago in the timeline of the world.  ...

Neil has been described as a reluctant hero, an iconic figure, and a test pilot’s test pilot.  My classmates and I had the great fortune to see another side of Neil – a great aviator who was comfortable making paper airplanes in UC’s Armory Fieldhouse and a professor who enjoyed having beers with students after final exams.  He showed frustration when his assistant was forced to interrupt class because a NASA administrator refused to wait for a call back but he tolerated the antics of our class when we got restless or when a famous Italian actress turned photojournalist converted our Baldwin Hall classroom into a photo-shoot backdrop.  About that photo shoot – the photojournalist was Gina Lollobrigida, one of the most popular European actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, who had photographed Henry Kissinger and Fidel Castro and was now in Cincinnati to capture images of Neil and his students.

Many have written that Neil had nerves of steel.  I think what we saw was a man with an extraordinary ability to adapt and learn both on the fly (no pun intended) and with incredible speed.  Couple that with a sixth sense when it came to timing in the face of escalating risks and you have the right stuff to be Apollo 11’s Commander.      ...      (Full tribute)

Ralph Spitzen
UC Alumnus

►  When the Houston Astrodome officially opened for National League play in April 1965, we were the Astro’s opponent in the inaugural game. Before the game, the 29 Mercury Program astronauts were all honored, preceded by an introduction of the original seven that had been chosen. Naturally, I was transfixed.

As I was waiting for the ceremonies to begin, a wiry built civilian came down into the dugout, approached me, sat down, and we began talking. He explained that he was an astronaut in training, part of the second wave of newer astronauts, and was from a small town in Ohio, just as I also was. We exchanged pleasantries for 10 or 15 minutes before he decided he’d better rejoin the activities on the field. Upon departing, he shook my hand and said, “by the way, my name is Neil Armstrong, what is yours?” I remember thinking to myself at the time, none of these astronauts are very big men, restricted in stature by capsule space and payload limitations, but huge in outright courage.

...  Our meeting is my most cherished moment from professional baseball. It was not my first hit, or my first home run, or any statistic about baseball. It was getting to meet and having that isolated conversation with Neil Armstrong, before he ever made it into space, or walked on the moon. Looking at both the past and the future, I don’t regard Christopher Columbus as having anything on Neil Armstrong. Few, if any, have made a greater contribution to our country, or to the world community, than he did. What a remarkable legacy he leaves us.  (Full Text)

John Herrnstein
University of Michigan (’59) and former player for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Armstrong step

Following are some comments from the The BSAE class of ’74 Class Reunion in 2000:

► Most Useful Class .. Aircraft Design – In my last several coop quarters and my first year and a half as an engineer, I worked on developing a preliminary design code for fighter aircraft design. I later worked on Winging-ground (WIG) aircraft design, before leaving DTNSRDC. At Wright Patt my job was primarily tactical systems focused from a systems perspective. At GEAE, I first worked ATOVL and then HSCT as a project manager,  always from a systems perspective. – Fred Krause

► Most Useful Class .. Aircraft Flight Testing with Neil Armstrong was the most useful class. On March 25, 1974, Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida came to class to photograph Neil and his students. Gina was also a successful photographer and was shooting some of the world’s greatest people for women’s magazines. Having already photographed Fidel Castro and Henry Kissinger, she turned to Armstrong. The classroom photograph with John Aicholtz, Rick Marickovich, Don Klick, and me appeared in the August 1974 Ladies Home Journal. - ??

► I told my fourth grade nephew that Neil Armstrong was one of my college professors. When he told his teacher, she told him to “quit telling lies.” She believed him after I wrote a letter. – Jim Kocher

► I remember sitting in our aircraft performance class with Andy Lee and just getting into one of those moods when I just couldn’t stop laughing. Andy couldn’t stop either. I have to idea what started it, but Armstrong threw us out. – Fred Krause

► One time during the end of the quarter of the first class, Aircraft Performance, that Neil taught a UC, which was after lunch, Dave Burros said to Neil as he walked into the room, we have been kind all quarter, today you are going to tell stories.  Now Neil had no idea that this was coming.  So he told us a couple of very interesting stories, however, he was so brilliant that he worked his lecture around the stories.

► I worked with him on an independent study class with Dr. Kroll.  He was extremely helpful; he genuinely cared about my project and provided great insight into the problem I was working on.

► Every nice thing that is said about Neil in the press is true.  He was very kind and gentle, he was brilliant, he was business like, he had a dry sense of humor, and he always wanted to help others.

► NASA Glenn Research Center Neil Armstrong Biography

► CNN Light Years Commentary on Armstrong National Service

► More WCPO Channel 9 Coverage

YouTube Video of WCPO Broadcast

► Cincinnati Enquirer - Neil Armstrong, Reluctant Hero - July 18, 1999

USA Today Tribute with asociated links

Great Living Cincinnatians - Cincinnati Regional Chamber