Audio of Apollo 11 – as recorded in Sydney

Monday 21 July 1969

The Boniecki Tapes

On the day of the first lunar landing and EVA, Dwight Steven-Boniecki’s Dad, Bugomil Boniecki, watched and listened in his home in the Sydney suburb of Carlingford. He used his reel to reel audio tape recorder to preserve some of the radio and TV coverage of Apollo 11.

Here are some highlights from his tape, which was rediscovered by Dwight in early 2005.

These tapes capture some of the incredible excitement and anticipation of that day. Dwight’s Dad knew he was recording history – and he has added his own time markers to the tapes (listen for them).

Another very nice feature of these recordings (especially “The world sees Neil Armstrong descend the ladder”) is that you can hear Dwight’s family reacting with wonder and excitement at what they are seeing as Neil Armstrong comes down the ladder.

They’ve Landed
52 sec / 112kb

Bugomil Boniecki tells us that it is 21st of July 1969. We then hear the start of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s radio news bulletin – most probably the main bulletin which was broadcast at 7:45am on 2BL in Sydney. Rod McNeill is the Newsreader.

EVA brought forward
1 min 49 sec / 232kb
Just after 8:00am AEST

Bob Leslie (the first Station Director of Tidbinbilla and, in 1969, the head of the Australian Space Office) explains that the EVA has been brought forward.

Honeysuckle will see it
2 min 11 sec / 280kb

Recorded just after 8:00am. ABC Science Unit members Dr. Peter Pockley and Michael Daley, along with Bob Leslie.

The EVA will be early – and if it is around 11:00am, Honeysuckle Creek, will see it, though Parkes will miss out.

TV will come from Australian tracking stations
38 sec / 156kb

Bob Leslie points out that Australian TV will probably be coming from Australian tracking stations.

(He was right. Except for a few moments of Goldstone’s pictures at the start, Australian viewers only saw video from Honeysuckle and then Parkes – both coming from a split to the Australian TV networks from Sydney Video in the OTC’s Paddington exchange.)

TV test with sync pulses
54 sec / 116kb

The TV is turned on, while still in the MESA, to make sure all is working.

This appears to have been recorded off-air from TCN-9 television in Sydney. Newsreader Brian Bury gives the commentary.

Brian Bury announces TV imminent
2 min 19 sec / 288kb

Brian Bury as the TV is about to start

A wonderful announcement from Channel 9’s Brian Bury.

In a day when live satellite TV to Australia was uncommon, viewers could now see Houston – with the prospect of television from the Moon only minutes away.

His guest is Professor Stuart Butler of the Department of Physics at the University of Sydney. We also hear the The Voice of America’s Rhett Turner in the background.

The world sees Neil Armstrong descend the ladder

6 min 33 sec / 812kb

Hear the family’s reaction from 1'10". Even though the picture was very dark, there was someone coming down that ladder!

ABC Newsreader Martin Royal joins the commentary team. The radio commentators were having a hard time working out exactly what was going on. Bugomil Boniecki adds a time marker at 4'41".

Parkes now receiving
3 min 50 sec / 476kb

As Aldrin prepares to join Armstrong on the surface, it is noted that Parkes should have acquired by now. (Indeed they have – Sydney Video and then Houston TV have just switched to them.) The audio is a mix of ABC Radio, The Voice of America’s Rhett Turner, and the family enthralled by what they are seeing.

Apollo 11 Re-enters the Earth’s Atmosphere – Friday July 25 1969

2 min 46sec / 304kb
Capt Brown

As the Apollo 11 Command Module nears re-entry, ABC Radio waits to hear a live report from Qantas Boeing 707 Captain Frank Brown, flying in darkness over the Gilbert and Ellis Islands.

(See this newspaper clipping from the Sydney Sun Herald newspaper, page 24, Sunday 27 July 1969, for the background.)

2 min 30 sec / 232kb

Qantas 707 Captain Frank Brown describes his view of the Command and Service Modules as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. During blackout, there is no communications with the spacecraft – and it is still some time before the ARIA (Apollo Range Instrumented Aircraft) have visual contact.

You can get an idea of what Capt. Brown saw by watching this film clip.

With thanks to Dwight Steven-Boniecki.

Dwight with Buzz

Dwight Steven-Boniecki with Buzz Aldrin in 2005.

Note: These recordings are presented here as historical documents. All rights gladly acknowledged.