Home > In the Black > In the Black — Cameo by Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin

In the Black — Cameo by Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin


“Damn it. It’s the radar. No-no-no. Switch the radar–,” Vasili Ivanovich urged into his microphone as he interpreted the stream of data on the screen of his console in the Lunar Excursion Module support trailer at Cape Kennedy.

Beside him sat Y.T., Sr, and Arthur Needleman silently watching an unexpected twist in the dramatic events of a Sunday afternoon in July. Behind them sat Frik and Frak, watching the video feeds intently. The LEM support trailer was filled with consoles and the hushed, intense chatter of technicians and engineers monitoring telemetry feeds from two hundred thirty-eight thousand miles away and updating Gene Kranz’s White Team on their assessments of system performance and mission success or failure.

“The twelve oh-one and twelve oh-two errors are okay,” Vasili Ivanovich advised the chain of command at the Houston Mission Control Center. “It’s okay. It is okay. No problem. No problem. Just task prioritizing.”

The LEM was descending from six thousand feet above the surface of the moon when guidance and navigation alarms went off distracting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Vasili Ivanovich repeatedly advised the guidance team that the situation was okay.

When he saw from the data on his console that Neil Armstrong had taken manual control of the LEM to avoid boulders strewn about the originally plotted landing site, Vasili Ivanovich looked up at the video monitor as the clinical dialog of two astronauts — sounding so damn much like Frik and Frak in the Learjet cockpit — floated dreamily through his consciousness.

“Contact light!” said Buzz Aldrin

“Shutdown,” said Neil Armstrong.

“Okay, engine stop. ACA – out of detent.”

“Out of detent. Auto”

“Mode control – both auto. Descent engine command override off. Engine arm – off. 413 is in.”

“We copy you down, Eagle,” acknowledged CAPCOM from Houston.

“Engine arm is off,” Neil Armstrong confirmed to Buzz Aldrin. He then responded to CAPCOM, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Vasili Ivanovich sat in stunned silence, staring at his console. They made it, he thought. Then before the full realization hit him, the crowded trailer erupted as technicians and engineers leaped up, cheering and hugging one another. Without realizing it, Vasili Ivanovich was on his feet cheering, too. To his right he saw Arthur Needleman and wrapped his arms around the man who had set this entire adventure in motion for him with a sales call they made on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory years and years ago and lifted him up off his feet. When their embrace broke, Vasili Ivanovich turned left and saw Y.T., Sr., still staring at the video monitor. He hesitated, then grabbed the man who had saved him from a life of quiet desperation in a Washington D.C. radio repair shop after World War II in a bear hug.

“Spacibo, spacibo, spacibo,” the Russian whispered into Y.T., Sr.’s ear.

The ex-Navy Commander smiled That Smile! hearing his former VF-51 squadron mate announce he had “caught the wire” on the surface of the moon. The ex-Colonel, who himself had made history in a B-29 over Nagasaki, teared up witnessing a fellow Air Force pilot make a very different — and a very much better kind of history in outer space.

For Erp Industries, Inc., the mission was only half over. The five men stayed at the console in the LEM support trailer the entire night, watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the surface of the moon a few hours later, then, the next day monitoring their blast off from the surface of the moon to rejoin Command Module Pilot Michael Collins for the return trip to earth. Once the LEM ascent stage was released to lunar orbit, Vasili Ivanovich, shut down his console and they finally left the Kennedy Space Center. Their celebration Monday night ended with driving their rental car out on the beach where Y.T., Sr., Vasili Ivanovich and Arthur Needleman toasted the success of Apollo 11 with vodka and howled at the moon — around which the Erp Industries, Inc. black boxes that Vasili Ivanovich had dreamed up and created continued to orbit.

Y.T., Sr. walked off alone down the deserted beach and tried to imagine the “magnificent desolation” Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had witnessed first hand.

Far out to sea, lightning from passing storms arced across the horizon.


“Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying.”

~Neil Armstrong


Buy In the Black at Smashwords

Save 50% at Smashwords

Use Coupon Code:  BL48B





Categories: In the Black
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: