Monday, May 3, 2010

Another great one passes

I've read most of the Apollo era astronaut biographies and I've read nothing but praise for Gunther Wendt, "the pad fuhrer."
He was a very personable and extremely efficient manager of the white room.
A great man who earned his place in history.

Guenter Wendt, 85, 'Pad Leader' for NASA's Moon Missions, Dies
space.com – Mon May 3, 4:15 pm ET

Guenter Wendt, the original pad leader for NASA's manned space program and the last man the Apollo astronauts saw before launching to the moon, died at his home in Merritt Island, Fla., Monday. Wendt, 85, was hospitalized for congestive heart failure and then suffered a stroke.

Reporting to Cape Canaveral as a McDonnell Aircraft Corp. engineer working on missile projects soon after gaining his American citizenship in 1955, Wendt, who was born and educated in Berlin, became part of the effort to launch the first U.S. astronauts into space.

As pad leader – or "pad f├╝hrer" as the astronauts came to affectionately call him due to his strong German accent and unwavering rules – Wendt oversaw the spacecraft on the launch pads and all who had access to them to ensure the safety of all those involved.

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