Neil Armstrong, In His Own Words

The first moonwalker’s storied aviation career

Armstrong in the cockpit of the X-15 in 1961, a year before becoming an astronaut. (NASA)

F5D-1 Skylancer, 1962


Armstrong was in the second group of astronauts selected in 1962, so he watched NASA’s first Mercury flights from a distance. Working on the X-15 and Dyna-Soar programs, “We were far more involved in spaceflight research than the Mercury people,” he told biographer Hansen. “I always felt that the risks we had in the space side of the program were probably less than we had back in flying at Edwards or the general flight-test community. The reason is that we were exploring the frontiers, we were out at the edges of the flight envelope all the time, testing limits. That isn’t to say that we didn’t expect risks in the space program. But we felt pretty comfortable because we had so much technical backup and we didn’t go nearly as close to the limits as much as we did back in the old flight-test days.”

Pictured: Armstrong preparing to fly a Dyna-Soar simulation in the F5D-1 Skylancer, 1962.


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