William Anders dies in plane crash

SEATTLE (AP) – William Anders, the elder Apollo 8 The astronaut who took the iconic “Earthrise” photo showing the planet as a shaded blue marble from space in 1968 was killed Friday when the plane he was piloting alone plunged into the waters off the San Juan Islands, Washington State. He was 90 years old.

His son, a retired Air Force lieutenant. Collar. Greg Anders confirmed the death to the Associated Press.

“The family is devastated,” he said. “He was a great pilot and will be missed terribly.”

William Anders, a retired major general, said the photo was his most important contribution to the space program, while ensuring the operation of Apollo 8’s command module and service module.

The photograph, the first color image of Earth from space, is one of the most important photos in modern history because it changed the way humans viewed the planet. The photo is credited with sparking the global environmental movement for showing how delicate and isolated Earth appeared from space.

NASA administrator and former senator. Bill Nelson said Anders embodied the lessons and purpose of exploration.

“He went to the edge of the Moon and helped us all see something else: ourselves,” Nelson wrote on the social platform.

Anders took the photo during the crew’s fourth orbit around the moon, frantically switching from black and white to color film.

“Oh my God, look at that picture over there!” » said Anders. “Here is the Earth that appears. Wow, it’s pretty!

THE Apollo 8 mission In December 1968, it was the first human space flight to leave low Earth orbit and travel to and from the Moon. It was the most daring and perhaps most dangerous voyage NASA had ever undertaken and paved the way for the Apollo moon landing seven months later.

“Bill Anders forever changed our view of our planet and ourselves with his famous Earthrise photo on Apollo 8,” the Arizona senator said. Mark Kelly, who is also a retired NASA astronaut, wrote about X. “He inspired me and generations of astronauts and explorers. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

A report came in around 11:40 a.m. that an older model plane crashed into the water and sank near the north end of Jones Island, said San Juan County Sheriff Eric To fart. Greg Anders confirmed to KING-TV that his father’s body was found Friday afternoon.

Only the pilot was aboard the Beech A45 plane at the time, according to the Federal Aviation Association.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are investigating the accident.

William Anders said in 1997 NASA Oral History interview that he did not think the Apollo 8 mission was safe, but that there were important national, patriotic, and exploratory reasons for pursuing it. He estimated that there was about a one in three chance that the crew would not return and that there was an equal chance that the mission would be a success and that it would not start. He said he suspected that Columbus had sailed with worse odds.

He understood how Earth seemed fragile and physically insignificant, yet it was his home.

“We had gone backwards and upside down, we hadn’t really seen the Earth or the Sun, and when we turned around and came back and saw the first Earthrise,” he said . “That was definitely the most impressive thing by far. Seeing this very delicate and colorful orb that to me looked like a Christmas tree decoration popping up against this very stark and ugly moonscape was really contrasting.

Anders said in retrospect he would have liked to take more photos, but mission commander Frank Borman wondered if everyone was rested and strained. sleep, “which probably made sense.”

Chip Fletcher, a professor at the University of Hawaii who has conducted extensive research on coastal erosion and climate change, remembers seeing the photo as a child.

“It just opened my brain to realize that we are alone but we are together,” he said, adding that it still influences him today.

“It’s one of those images that never leaves my mind,” he said. “And I think that’s true for many, many people in many professions.”

Anders served as a backup crew for Apollo 11 and for Gemini XI in 1966, but the Apollo 8 mission was the only time he flew in space.

Anders was born on October 17, 1933 in Hong Kong. At the time, his father was a Navy lieutenant aboard the USS Panay, an American gunboat sailing the Yangtze River, China.

Anders and his wife Valerie founded the Heritage Flight Museum in Washington state in 1996. It is now based at a regional airport in Burlington and includes 15 aircraft, several vintage military vehicles, a library and many artifacts donated by alumni fighters, according to the museum’s website. Two of his sons helped him run it.

The couple moved to Orcas Island in the San Juan Archipelago in 1993 and maintained a second home in their hometown of San Diego, according to a biography posted on the museum’s website. They had six children and 13 grandchildren. Their current home in Washington was in Anacortes.

Anders graduated from the Naval Academy in 1955 and served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force.

He later served on the Atomic Energy Commission, as U.S. Chairman of the U.S.-USSR Joint Technology Exchange Program for nuclear fission and fusion energy, and as ambassador to Norway. He later worked for General Electric and General Dynamics, according to him. NASA Biography.


McAvoy reported from Honolulu. Associated Press writer Lisa Baumann contributed to this report.

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