The Apollo 11 Launch


The Apollo 11 launch, photographed from 43,000 feet from a USAF C-135 (ARIA Fleet Aircraft 55-3123) from Patrick AFB, flown by Lt. Col. Bob Mosley of the ARIA fleet.

Click to play the 53MB Quicktime movie.

The scene begins approx. 48 seconds after launch, with the flames from the first stage partly obscured by cloud. The Saturn V quickly emerges and streaks above the KC-135. The film ends just after skirt separation.

Bob writes:

“We were at 43,000 feet, under radar guidance from KSC, photographing the launch of Apollo 11 and had the best seat in the house, except for Armstrong, Aldrin, and Colins, who were on their way to the first and historic landing of MAN on the MOON.

The camera had an optically ground piece of glass covering the camera lens that would crack if there was too quick of a change in temperature (as we found out once). The solution was to change altitude no faster than 1,000 feet per minute. This gave us trouble with air traffic controllers when we flew the plane in the airways system. But another noteable effect it had, on a mission photographing a launch at Cape Kennedy, was that upon completion of the mission you were basically still over Patrick AFB but it took you 43 minutes to get home. You could have flown to Atlanta, Georgia in that length of time.”

(The silent film and Public Affairs audio were combined by Colin Mackellar. The film print was mirrored left to right, and was recorded at around 35fps. The mirroring was corrected and playback speed adjusted.)


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