Biopic of the first man on the moon. Featuring the first ever interviews with those closest to Armstrong, a man who sought privacy in later life despite his enormous fame.
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That's one small step for man...
One giant leap for mankind.
When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon,
he not only made a giant leap for mankind,
he changed the course of his own life for ever.
For someone to be able to do that
in their lifetime,
and experience it, where they actually touched down
and walked on another surface,
Armstrong was suddenly one of the most famous people
who have ever lived.
It sort of caught me by surprise, really,
when I realised that being number one on the moon
was going to be a really, really big deal.
-'What can you do?
'You can just smile and laugh and wave.'
This was the beginning.
'People wanted a piece of him. And it wasn't just anyone...'
it was everyone.
After years perfecting the skills needed
to be one of America's finest astronauts,
Armstrong was now required to play a very different role.
There's a mission you train for
and there's a mission you DON'T train for.
It just never stops.
Armstrong refused to live in the media spotlight
and would seldom discuss his greatest achievement with the press.
He became an enigmatic icon and struggled with his fame.
I think I did see him suffering and I tried to help him, and I couldn't.
It was an awesome...
..price to pay.
This is the story of the real Neil Armstrong,
told for the first time on camera
by those who loved, lived and worked with the first man on the moon.
Neil would dream he could hold his breath
and that would make him float.
And then he could float just by holding his breath
and then when he let it down, why, he'd come back down.
Apparently he could repeat this dream periodically,
which made him very happy.
That was a really nice, happy dream to have.
July 16th 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 prepared to leave for the moon.
Alongside Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin,
Neil Armstrong was in command.
In his hands lay the responsibility for a mission
that had taken more than 400,000 people over ten years to achieve.
We, the crew of Apollo 11,
are privileged to represent the United States
in our first attempt to take man to another heavenly body.
By July 20th 1969, Apollo 11 was in orbit around the moon
and tension was building.
It's grown quite quiet here in Mission Control.
A few moments ago, Flight Director Gene Kranz
requested that everyone sit down,
get prepared for events that are coming.
And he closed with, "Good luck to all of you."
Now the world held its breath,
as Armstrong and Aldrin entered the lunar module,
leaving Mike Collins behind.
And Armstrong and Aldrin,
within the LEM, that will be their home for the next 30 hours or so.
For the astronauts' families it was a nerve-racking experience.
We were in our homes during flight. We had integrated communications,
we called them the squawk box, because it squawked all the time.
I had the squawk box in my bedroom
and I had one out in the living room and I did listen to those.
All I knew was that if everything worked
they would attempt to do it and, I would think, be successful.
That was in the back of my mind.
But everything had to work...
and it just wasn't likely.
While Armstrong and Aldrin
began the final 60-mile descent to the surface,
Mike Collins remained in lunar orbit.
I figured that our chances of 100% success were about 50/50.
At least the crew had few doubts about each other.
I never really had any thought
that Neil might have some hesitation about...anything.
But almost as soon as they started the descent,
things began to go wrong.
'That's Charlie Duke putting in a call to the crew.'
-As they went around the moon, looking at their trajectory,
the bottom fell out.
We started having communication problems, had data drop out.
Then, as they descended towards the surface,
the main computer began to raise a series of alarms.
And then started getting computer-overload alarm.
That really shocked me,
as it could potentially be a show-stopper on the mission.
Neither of us knew what 1202 meant.
We knew where we could find the answer,
but it was in a document about that thick
and you'd have to leaf through it.
Here we are halfway down, landing on the moon.
But there's a bunch of guys back on Earth, they can look it up.
The team at Mission Control found an answer in 23 seconds.
Capcom, we're go for landing.
Houston, you're go for landing. Over.
Now, just 3,000 feet above the surface,
everything hung on the skill of one man.
Neil took over and he was focused on doing the landing.
That was his one opportunity in a lifetime
to make a landing on the moon.
As Armstrong got his first close-up look at the landing site
he discovered it was strewn with boulders.
And with fuel running low, he had only seconds to decide what to do.
I said, you know, "What single thing
"do you have the most uncertainty about?"
And he says, "How deep is the dust?"
America was suffering under the twin disasters
of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.
During those uncertain times, on 5th August,
Neil Alden Armstrong was born here in Wapakoneta, Ohio,
in America's Midwest.
I do believe my mother was just thrilled,
first of all, to have a baby.
A baby of her very own.
My parents were very frugal,
but in those days, I think most people were frugal.
They were somewhat standoffish,
as far as showing real deep affection.
Were they there for us?
By the age of five, Armstrong had a younger brother and sister,
and not long after,
the family moved to the small town of Upper Sandusky in Ohio.
We had a small rented house.
There were three bedrooms.
The first time I was allowed to sleep in Neil's bedroom
it was a big day for me.
And it was not for HIM, because I wet the bed.
JUNE HOFFMAN: Neil seemed to thrive on friendships.
He had four or five friends that he played regularly with.
He was quiet.
He was very quiet.
Did not say much,
but when he did say something, you listened.
He enjoyed my jokes.
Anyone enjoying my jokes is going to be a friend of mine!
Kotcho recalls the beginnings of his pal's fascination with flight,
an obsession that would shape the rest of Neil's life.
'Army planes roaring overhead
'at the national air races in Cleveland, Ohio,
'thrilled 40,000 spectators.'
When he was, like, five years old,
his father took him on an aeroplane ride on a Trimotor.
Dad got sick, but Neil just absolutely loved it.
In the mid-1930s, short rides in aircrafts such as this Ford Trimotor
were a form of entertainment.
And as with many children,
this first taste of flight for Neil would leave a lasting impression.
This was the start and the feeling of being airborne
and actually flying like a bird.
It kindled his inspiration to fly.
He absolutely loved everything about flight.
He would have three or four model aeroplane projects
going on all the time.
Mostly gliders, he got into the rubber-band type
and he just kept building bigger and bigger ones
and better ones.
We both made models early, and of course our desire then,
as it was later in our careers,
was to make these things go higher and faster.
And my solution to higher and faster was
you took a couple of extra turns on the rubber band.
Neil's solution -
he built a wind tunnel!
When we were ready for the test, he said, "Go get Mum."
I said, "Neil wants you to see something."
So he turned it on.
And all of a sudden the house shook.
And I mean the house really shook.
How many kids could build a wind tunnel in their basement?
Not any that I know, except Neil.
By the time he was 15 and enthused by exploits of World War II pilots,
he'd begun to take flying lessons at his local airfield.
But Armstrong saw no need to tell his family about it.
I honestly do not think that my parents actually knew
when he first started to take flying lessons.
In an interview recorded in 2001, Armstrong recalled the time.
He had his pilot's licence before he had his driver's licence.
Armstrong's first flights
coincided with a series of extraordinary advances
in aviation technology.
Since the Second World War,
engineers had been pushing the development of aircraft so far
that now not even the sound barrier stood in their way.
In October 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the speed of sound
in his Bell X-1 rocket plane.
The Cold War was under way.
Armstrong, keen to pursue a career in aeronautical engineering,
won a Navy scholarship to study the subject at Perdue university.
But then everything changed, as the Cold War began to get hotter.
At the end of his second year,
which would have been 1950, the Korean War started.
The 20-year-old Armstrong became a Navy pilot.
After intense training he joined Squadron VF-51
on the aircraft carrier USS Essex.
There was a lot to learn - and fast.
But the skills he'd honed
would make him one of the best pilots of his generation.
The carrier was a dangerous environment.
On 16th September 1961,
this accident on the Essex killed seven sailors.
Below deck, Armstrong had a narrow escape.
It was not his first brush with death.
One of his jobs was to dive-bomb and blow up bridges and railroads.
And he said that the North Koreans strung up wires.
For the young pilots flying at low altitude,
anti-aircraft cables were an ever-present danger.
And they were hard to spot, even for the eagle-eyed Armstrong.
Battling to keep control,
Armstrong's instinctive ability came to the fore.
As long as he could keep a certain speed,
he could stay up, but as soon as he slowed down, the plane would drop.
And so, he knew that he could not land on the aircraft carrier,
he'd have to bail out.
It was the first in a series of close shaves
in which he developed the ability to remain calm when in danger.
He never showed any fear
or anything involving his close calls.
He really loved what he was doing.
It was a very meaningful time for him.
Armstrong had flown 78 missions over Korea.
He was now a skilled and experienced pilot at the age of just 22.
He returned from Korea in 1952
as the Cold War arms race was reaching ever higher,
with each superpower racing to launch its nuclear warheads
on more and more powerful rockets.
But back at Purdue University,
this young man of few words had other things on his mind.
I met him at Purdue.
He told someone that I was the one he was going to marry.
But he never asked me out until he had graduated.
This will kind of illustrate about Neil.
I had never heard a word about Janet Shearon for two years,
or that he was even seeing her, dated her, knew her, or anything.
He didn't like to talk about much.
And he never did talk about much.
But what he did say seemed to be meaningful.
We were married in January 1956, and after that, in May,
we went up to the desert.
With his degree in aeronautical engineering
and his military flight experience,
Armstrong landed a job as a test pilot
at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
It was here that the very latest planes were being developed,
and for Armstrong, it was the perfect opportunity
to develop his talents further.
We were out at the edges of the flight envelope all the time,
If memory serves, there were 17 aircraft, pretty much all different.
A lot of X-airplanes and fighters
and a B-47 and a couple of B-29s
and all kinds of exotic aircrafts.
And as they became more confident of my abilities,
they gave me more and more jobs
and I did a lot of different test programmes in those days.
And then finally, I was flying the X-15.
The rocket-powered X-15 was the pinnacle of aviation technology
and the fastest plane in the world.
Only the very best pilots got to fly it.
The X-15 was absolutely the top of the line.
It was a whole supersonic zone above the rest of us,
and therefore all the people who flew the X-15
were held in the highest regard by the rest of us peasants.
Neil, of course, was one of that group.
It was a very exciting programme.
I think it was certainly one of the memorable parts of my life.
For Janet, life in the desert would prove equally challenging.
It was totally different, foreign, to anything I'd ever known in my life.
And then I got pregnant.
So we bought a house up in the hills.
That's where we lived when Rick was born,
and then shortly thereafter, Karen.
I think he was absolutely thrilled with Karen.
He called her Muffy
and she was the sweetest little toddler you would ever want to hold.
In 1961, Karen fell seriously ill.
Karen was a precious thing
and she developed a tumour in her brain.
She was just barely two.
We could not save her.
We did everything we could for her.
Karen died on 28th January, 1962.
The death of Karen really hurt him.
It was the only time that I have ever seen him
really, really hurt. Couldn't talk about it.
Maybe you just can't find the words.
-And then it was back to work.
Armstrong focused back on his work,
pushing himself and the fearsome X-15 to the limit.
I got the nose up above the horizon
and I found I was actually skipping outside the atmosphere,
where I had no aerodynamic controls.
Soaring out of the atmosphere at almost a mile a second,
Armstrong was unable to keep control.
What I couldn't do is get back down in the atmosphere.
I pulled over and pulled down, but it wasn't going down
because it had no air to bite into.
So I just had to wait
until I got back in with enough air
to have aerodynamic control and some lift on the wings
and immediately started making a turn back.
Armstrong had touched the edge of space,
making the longest ever X-15 flight,
180 miles in just over 11 minutes.
But beyond the skies of Edwards,
a new generation of pilots were flying so high
that the world had christened them spacemen.
The space race had pitched America against Russia,
but by 1962 the Russians were ahead
and President Kennedy set a new, ambitious goal.
Before the end of the '60s, we will see a man on the moon, to the moon,
an American, and we're very proud
that our country continues to produce these young men,
who go so far and carry with them so much.
70 seconds. Leaving a nice paper trail now, looks real fine.
To meet Kennedy's challenge, NASA went looking for more astronauts.
Curiously, the Milwaukee Journal gave me a call.
And they said,
"I understand your brother is one of the newest astronauts."
Er... I think I was speechless.
And then I called my mother and she said,
"Oh, I know, I just found out myself."
She saw it on television.
June's reticent brother was now called upon
to carry the hopes of the nation,
as America sought to beat the Russians to the moon.
Along with Janet, Rick and a new son, Mark,
Neil began a new life in Houston, Texas,
home to America's rapidly growing space programme.
It was a nice house, you know, it had a pool.
Because it was Houston and because it was often very hot,
there was a lot of swimming.
The neighbourhood was buzzing with trainee astronauts,
including Ed White, one of Armstrong's friends from Edwards.
I was visiting Ed White, I knew him pretty well,
and there was this guy in the backyard,
in front of the garage, where there's a lot of cement.
And here's this guy roller-skating.
I said, "Who's that?"
He said, "Oh, that's Neil Armstrong."
Armstrong's first space flight would come with the Gemini programme.
It was a vital part of the preparations for the Moon Landings.
Gemini had already had some successes,
the first close approach of two spacecraft in Orbit,
and the first US spacewalk,
by Armstrong's friend and neighbour, Ed White.
OK, I'm coming over.
It looks beautiful.
Armstrong's mission would be the first
to attempt to dock with another spacecraft in orbit -
a procedure which was vital if they were ever to reach the moon.
His co-pilot was Dave Scott.
Well, yes, I mean, the whole programme depended on docking.
So, docking had to be proven or we couldn't go to the moon.
So it was a critical mission, yeah.
Squeezed into their tight-fitting Gemini capsule,
the pair prepared for launch.
Neither of them knew what lay in store.
'Three, two, one, zero.
'We have ignition.
'And we have a lift-off at three seconds.
'Neil Armstrong reports the clock has started.
'Roll programme is in, Armstrong says.'
I remember watching the launch on TV
and I remember having the squawk box on the TV,
where you could hear the Mission Control.
When they talked air-to-ground you could update yourself.
They started out just great.
Their docking target was an unmanned craft called Agena,
which had been launched earlier that day.
It's a spectacular view, to see another object in orbit.
Neil takes his hand off the controller and says,
"Boy, this is really great." And you don't move.
You're just stationary.
As Armstrong and Scott passed into the night side of the Earth,
they prepared for docking.
Neil eased it forward
and we moved right in.
Then Scott noticed that something was wrong.
The two spacecraft were not stable now they were joined together.
You're supposed to fly straight and level, like an aeroplane,
with a horizon, but all of a sudden I noticed that we were tilted.
And I said, "Neil, we're in a bank."
And he looked over and said, "Yeah, we're in a bank."
The tilt on both spacecrafts soon turned into a slow spin.
Neither man was sure of the cause of the problem.
We first suspected that the Agena was the culprit.
We were on the dark side of the Earth,
so we really didn't have any outside reference.
Out of contact with the ground,
each astronaut tried in turn to regain control
using the Gemini's thrusters.
Finally, I notice that
we're down to about 13 or 16% propellant in the Gemini
and we're running out of gas, basically.
So I said, "Neil, we'd better get off."
He said, "Yeah, we'd better get off, let's prepare to undock."
And he says, "Ready?"
And I put my hand on the switch and Neil says, "Undock."
And then things start really moving.
Undocking from the Agena had caused the Gemini capsule
to enter a terrifying tumble,
but Mission Control was still unaware of the problem.
Then we go into a very rapid roll, which was almost a tumble.
And at that point we realised that it wasn't the Agena,
it must be the Gemini.
As the spin rates increased,
Armstrong and Scott started experiencing intense G-forces
within the capsule.
If Neil doesn't find a solution,
we'll spin up to the point where we'll both black out
and nobody will ever hear from us again.
They were spinning at maybe a revolution per second.
At home, a photographer captured Janet
as she listened to the unfolding drama.
You knew they were spinning fast
and there was a very strong concern that they would black out.
And that would be it, it would be over.
And then NASA cut the squawk box.
I didn't like that,
so I went over to NASA
and I was refused entry.
Back in orbit and still tumbling out of control,
Armstrong kept his cool and turned to his only remaining option,
switching on the re-entry system to regain control of the spacecraft.
He had to reach up above his head and throw switches,
under this high-speed roll.
That's amazing, that he was able to do that.
And he knew exactly where the switches were,
exactly which ones to throw.
I mean, the guy was brilliant.
He knew the system so well that he found a solution,
he activated the solution under extreme circumstances,
and I've got to say,
it was my lucky day to be flying with Mr Neil Armstrong.
Splashing down on the South China Sea a few hours later,
Armstrong might have lost his mission but he'd saved their lives
and possibly even the space programme itself.
He landed and came home - drove his car home.
Came in with his gear and put it down in the bedroom.
We went into the kitchen, had a cup of coffee,
and he was telling me about the flight.
We knew that they could have lost their lives.
We knew that anyway, so there was no point in talking about it.
Either you do or you don't.
That's the way it is.
The full risks of the space programme would be brought home
less than a year later, in January 1967,
with the deaths of three astronauts in a fire
on board the Apollo 1 spacecraft.
Armstrong found himself burying his close friend Ed White who had
died along with Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.
Everybody's attitude that I knew was that this was a real disaster.
Very sad. Very depressing.
But we go on because we know Gus, Ed and Roger would want us to go on.
They wouldn't want us to stop.
No Americans would fly into space for almost two years.
But after a series of unmanned test flights of the Saturn 5 moon rocket,
NASA was ready to launch men into space again.
The first men to ride this giant rocket
went straight into orbit around the moon on Apollo 8.
Armstrong was the backup commander
and watched closely from Mission Control.
This guaranteed him command of a following mission.
And as luck would have it, that was Apollo 11.
On Apollo 11,
it was the first spacecraft that was capable of landing.
The first lunar module that could even attempt a landing.
And so I think Neil's attitude is,
"I'm not number one. I won't be number one on the moon."
What I saw in his attitude was,
"I'm training to be the first one to ATTEMPT the landing on the moon."
Part of the preparations to attempt to land on the moon
required Armstrong to fly a lunar-landing training vehicle,
affectionately known as the flying bedstead.
It was difficult to fly.
But on the other hand, I think we all felt it absolutely mandatory
to be able to fly that type of vehicle before you go to the moon.
On one of Armstrong's flights,
a failure of the fuel system suddenly caused the craft to tip.
He only had a second to decide what to do.
It was yet another close call for the fast-thinking astronaut,
escaping with only minor injuries.
And I get a telephone call.
HE SLURS: "Hello, Dean? Neil.
"I just want to tell you I'm OK. Just cut my tongue in two with my teeth.
"But I'm going to be OK."
I said, "Great to hear from you." HE LAUGHS
Back at work the next day, Armstrong's training continued.
The pace was relentless as he prepared for that first step
he would take on the moon.
As launch day approached, there was one last thing to do for the family.
And the reserved engineer prepared for it in the only way he knew how.
I do remember a meeting. We had a family meeting.
Before he left.
But it was sort of a Q&A type meeting where he did say,
"You know, there is some risk in this mission.
"We are confident we are going to at least get back, you know,
"but that might not happen."
July 16th, 1969. Cape Kennedy.
Over a million people came to watch Apollo 11 leave for the moon.
Among them was Armstrong's childhood friend Kotcho Solacoff.
The day before the launch,
we had a tour of the facilities at Cape Kennedy.
We stood in front of the rocket while my wife took their picture
and we shook hands and said congratulations,
we had finally got Neil on a good job, at last.
Then we give him a salute. HE LAUGHS
We didn't say goodbye. It was more like good luck.
He leaned over and gave me a little peck on the cheek.
Just a little bitty kiss.
And then he turned around and was gone. He didn't say a word.
He didn't say anything. That was it.
'Launch operations manager Paul Donnelly wished
'the crew on the launch teams good luck and Godspeed.
'Neil Armstrong reported back when he received the good wishes,
'"Thank you very much. We know it will be a good flight."'
Actually, my wife took the movies. I was taking 35mm shots.
'All engines running. Lift-off. We have lift-off.
'32 minutes past the hour. Lift-off on Apollo 11.'
I just kept saying, "Go, Neil! Go, Neil! Go, Neil!"
I was just yelling like this. "Go, Neil."
It would take four days for Armstrong, Collins
and Aldrin to get to the moon.
Then would come an attempt to pull off one of the most audacious
achievements in human history.
Without a doubt, powered descent
and landing successfully is what it was all about.
That's what the President said.
"Land a man on the moon and bring him back safely."
We were certainly aware that the nation's hopes largely
rested on us doing the best job we could.
Armstrong's job was now to fly the lunar module
for the first time in his life, and land it successfully.
'All flight controllers, going to go for a landing.
-Capcom, we're go for landing.
'Eagle Houston, you are go for landing. Over.'
Working around the broken communication links and computer alarms,
Armstrong was just 2,000 feet above the lunar surface.
I was in my bedroom.
We were tracking it on a map as they pointed out verbally where they were.
With the fuel starting to get low,
Armstrong was still looking for a safe place to touch down.
It was a fairly steep slope and it was covered with very big rocks
and it just wasn't a good place to land.
That's why he had to hover around there,
to find a good spot to put down.
I wanted to make it as easy for myself as I could.
There was a lot of concern about coming close to running out of fuel.
With only 30 seconds of fuel left, the landing
hinged on the unflappable test-pilot-turned-astronaut.
I was sure he was going to do it.
We copy you, Eagle.
I just jumped up and down and screamed and cried
and yelled and everything.
I was in orbit, of course, when they landed
and I was delighted they were down and safe on the surface.
I gave a little sigh of relief.
With Apollo 11 safely down,
press attention turned to the astronauts' wives.
Every time a door opened,
some press person would rush up with the camera and yell,
"Who is that? Who is that?" And all of this kind of thing.
And what they all wanted to ask Janet was what Neil would say
when he first stepped out.
Do you have any inkling what he's going to say? He wouldn't tell us.
-When he steps out on the moon.
-No, I have no idea what he's going to say.
But whatever he says, I'm sure it will be worthwhile.
Armstrong always said he thought up his famous words
AFTER landing on the moon.
But his brother Dean remembers it differently.
Before he went to the Cape,
he invited me down to be with him and spend a little time with him.
He said, "Well, why don't you and I, when the boys go to bed,
"why don't we play a game of Risk?"
I said, "I'd enjoy that."
We started playing Risk.
And then he slipped me a piece of paper and said, "Read that."
And I did.
And on that piece of paper there was,
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
He said, "What do you think about that?"
I said, "Fabulous."
He said, "I thought you might like that.
"But I wanted you to read it."
-It was, "That's one small step for
Prepared with the words that history would best remember him for,
Armstrong started down the ladder.
'We are getting a picture on the TV.'
It was somewhat difficult to see.
I mean, we were watching our sets like this.
Because we weren't quite sure if he was coming down the step.
'Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now.'
I can remember vividly that grainy TV picture and him saying,
"I'm on the footpad now. And now I'm stepping off."
'I'm going to step off the LEM now.'
'That's one small step for man.
'One giant leap for mankind.'
It was pure Neil.
I was pretty close to him when he said that. HE LAUGHS
He was really surprising in how he would say
just the right thing at the right time.
Overjoyed. You know? Unbelievable.
I've never had such great feelings in my life.
'Isn't that something? Magnificent sight out here.'
Finally, it began to sink in with me, that really is another planet.
'Roger. The EVA is progressing beautifully.
'I believe they are setting up the flag now.'
At last, after the years of preparation, the launch
and the landing, the first two human beings on the moon could
simply marvel at this strange environment.
'That looks beautiful from here, Neil.'
The 2.5 hour moonwalk passed all too quickly.
And soon it was time to come home,
as the pair climbed back inside their spacecraft.
'I'd like to say, from all of us and the countries in the entire world,
'we think that you've done a magnificent job up there today.'
He got me there, and he got me back. Safe.
And I made a couple of mistakes.
Fortunately, they...they were not that crucial.
And I'm not going to tell you about them. HE LAUGHS
A brief period in quarantine would be the crew's only respite
before an extraordinary madness began.
Armstrong, the humble aeronautical engineer and test pilot
from small-town Ohio, was about to have his life utterly transformed.
We did New York, Chicago and LA all in one day.
There were thousands and thousands of people.
People from windows above, apartments and so on. It was fabulous.
It was like nothing I'd ever seen before in my life,
or ever had done before in my life.
We were in open cars. Open convertibles.
I can remember, you know, I'm in a car and I'm waving
and I'm like, "I didn't do anything. Not sure why I'm in here."
The schedule was punishing,
with the astronauts forced into the role of international ambassadors.
Together with their wives,
they visited 23 countries in just 45 days.
Their mission now was to shake hands with the world.
And everyone was eager to meet the first man on the moon.
We went to each country and it would be, of course,
a huge welcome at the airport, which called for a speech.
A huge luncheon or something, which called for a speech.
And then there would be the major State dinner,
which called for a speech.
And I always felt that Neil had the responsibility,
the burden, if you will, of always saying the perfect thing.
He was the star.
But I have to say, he had a pretty darn good supporting cast.
This was the beginning.
This was the beginning of it all. But there was nothing you could do.
These people were just happy to see you.
None of us had married an astronaut.
And here were our husbands, all of a sudden,
and people are calling and saying, "Oh, we want an interview."
People wanted a piece of him.
I either want your autograph or I want my picture taken with you.
And I think that it wasn't just anyone - it was everyone.
Such an intense level of intrusion into Armstrong's life would
eventually start to take its toll on him and his family.
To be out to dinner and sort of minding your own business and
to have people coming and looking at you, going, "I know who that is."
Coming over and, "May I have your autograph, please?" You know.
After a while, even if they do it in the nicest possible way,
which many of them did, still, it just wears you out after a while.
And he really didn't know what he wanted to do.
That was a problem.
"What am I going to do now?
"What CAN I do?"
In 1971 Armstrong resigned from NASA.
It seemed there were no greater challenges left.
He could fly no higher and no faster than he'd already flown.
He chose instead to pursue his first love, aircraft design,
and accepted a professorship at the University of Cincinnati,
back in his home state.
We were looking for a place to live
and he wanted to live out in the country.
I guess he wanted to escape the people. He wanted privacy.
The Armstrongs bought this secluded farm in Ohio.
It was a radical change of lifestyle, and not just for Neil.
Life on the farm was very quiet.
We had 200 acres of land and we had maybe 100 head of cattle.
And we raised crops.
I kept thinking, "I wonder how they manage this."
And Neil sat there and prefaced his remarks by saying,
"Well, I do have a very competent farm manager."
And then I realised later that
the good, competent farm manager was Janet.
I ended up taking over the management of the farm.
I'm not sure that Mom really wanted the farm life.
But she did very well. She was a trooper.
While Janet dealt with the farm,
Neil turned his attention to teaching.
But escaping his fame was never going to be easy.
Whenever Neil Armstrong came onto the campus,
there was a number of rather interesting reactions.
The first day was rather chaotic.
As class was letting out, the media was massed outside the classroom.
And he did, in fact, push the students out of the classroom
and then quickly closed the door with himself inside the classroom.
Eventually, behind the closed doors of academia,
Armstrong found refuge from the consequences of his fame.
I began to think of him as simply Neil.
Not as Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon.
I just thought of him as Neil.
But outside university,
the burden of celebrity still sat uncomfortably with him.
He felt he was an engineer.
He was a test pilot and he was just testing one of the machines
when they landed on the moon.
He was given the credit and he didn't think he deserved it all.
Armstrong eventually opted for a pragmatic approach,
shunning the limelight and rationing interviews.
Which led to the media unfairly branding him a recluse.
He just didn't feel the need to notify the media
about what he was doing... so, a media recluse maybe,
but that's a completely different thing.
Struggling with the never-ending burden
of being the first man on the moon,
Armstrong coped in the only way he knew how -
throwing himself deeper into his work, just as he'd done in the past.
In 1979, he left the university in search of new opportunities -
this time in the world of business.
Chrysler 5/50 protection plant.
He even ventured into the world of advertising.
Unexpected repair bills for five years for 50,000 miles.
It protects you longer than any other American carmaker's plan.
His calendar was double-parked all the time.
He was gone during the week and he'd be home in the weekends
and he really didn't want to work on the farm on the weekends.
He wanted to do things with the boys and so on and so forth, and I did too.
I think that she'd hoped that at some point
Dad would work a little less and they might be able to do some things
that they'd always wanted to do.
Um, but he was a workaholic.
Er, and, so it was, I think, Dad's strong work ethic
and Mom's isolation on the farm
that eventually came between them.
Janet and Neil separated in 1990,
divorcing four years later.
The break-up between he and Janet
was devastating to him.
So, I think, for several years,
he just...was miserable.
Er, I just think it opened his eyes a little bit and made him
aware that he didn't have to work all the time.
That was very good for him.
It put him in a great position to meet other people.
During his later years, Armstrong finally began to ease up,
swapping endless rounds in the boardroom
for rounds on the golf course with his sons.
And it was during a golfing breakfast in 1992
that his life would take another direction on meeting Carol Knight.
And a few weeks later,
somebody called and he had a really quiet voice.
And I said, "Who is this?" He said, "Well, it's Neil."
And I said, "Neil who?"
It didn't dawn on me he'd be calling.
He said, "What are you doing?"
I said, "Actually I was outside, trying to cut down
"this dead cherry tree."
Then he sprang to life cos he's a farmer, and he said, "I can do that!"
So, he was at the house in a half-hour.
Two years after meeting, Neil asked Carol to marry him.
He liked good wine and good food and I like to cook.
And, yeah, it was mellow.
In the last 10, 15 years, I just feel like
there was just a general lightening up in all aspects
of his interactions with people.
Dr Neil Armstrong. Ladies and gentlemen...
Thank you so much.
The method we used to descend from orbit
to the surface of an alien world, er, worked.
But it would have been far more efficient
and far less traumatic if we could just beam down.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
All the men have certainly, as we say quietly, mellowed.
So that they're more relaxed,
they're more ready to just spend time doing something just for fun.
Armstrong turned 80 in 2010.
And Carol decided to do something special to mark it.
His 80th birthday party, I thought, "We could have a surprise party
"and it'll be a lot of fun." And I had about 250 people on a list
because our friends are spread all over the country.
I think he was surprised. He put on a good act if he wasn't.
We had a great time. He was grinning ear to ear.
And then, by the end of the evening, he was playing the piano.
And, he asked somebody to have me come up front
and I didn't know why. So I went up front but I sat down.
He was serenading me.
# Here's to precious days
# I'll spend with you... #
And then every guy in the audience was mad at him.
After almost everybody left, I went up to him
and congratulated him on his birthday and everything.
He hugged me and he says, "You know, I love you."
I said, "I do too, Neil. We go back a long way."
He said, "Yeah, we do."
That was the last time.
On 7th August 2012,
Neil Armstrong was admitted to hospital for heart surgery.
He remained there until his death on August 25th.
If there's a legacy, I think he may have left it already.
He very much wanted
the exploration of space
to be an accomplishment
that was important for this planet and everyone on it.
to, um, the generations that will follow
is incalculable, I believe.
It's overwhelming to think about how much has come from that inspiration.
If there was something that he could pass along
to future generations, I think it would be
the conviction... to do the right thing.
One thing, he was true to himself.
He WAS the man that you saw.
That was him.
Neil Armstrong's family and friends, many of whom have never spoken publicly before, tell the story of the first man to set foot on the moon.
Drawing heavily on unbroadcast archive footage and the unique perspectives of the contributors, this is an exclusive account of Armstrong's extraordinary life story. From his childhood during America's Great Depression to the heady days of the space programme, his historic first step on the moon and his famously private later life. Seen through the eyes of those who were with him, the film explores the man behind the myth, a man who was very much a product of his time.
The film goes beyond his days as an astronaut and shows that his life after the flight of Apollo 11 was in many ways equally challenging, as Armstrong came to terms with life outside Nasa and the relentless demands of fame until his death in August 2012.
From the producers of 'In the Shadow of the Moon'. Featuring interviews with Armstrong's first wife Janet, their two sons, Rick and Mark, Neil's brother and sister Dean and June, his best friend Kotcho Solacoff and second wife Carol. Fellow astronauts Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Duke and Dave Scott also feature in this revealing biopic.