Earlier in the year, I was asked to talk to Forres Rotary Club at one of their lunchtime meetings at the Ramnee Hotel in Forres. October 29th seemed a long way away at the time and 2009 being the 40th anniversary of the the first Apollo landing on the Moon, I decided to talk about the Apollo programme.
The funny thing was, nobody could tell me how long the talk would last! I was told 15 minutes, but maybe just 10 minutes, depends how much business there was to go through. The only thing I was told was that I had to finish at 2pm. Now that's not a lot of help when you are trying to put a talk together.
As it turned out, I discovered that it was far more difficult to come up with a talk which lasts 15 minutes than it is to do a talk for 50 minutes with pictures and diagrams in a Power Point presentation. There was to be none of that modern rubbish in this talk, just me, talking.
I had no shortage of information, David Woods' book, "How Apollo Flew to the Moon", the "Jim Haynes Workshop Manual for Apollo 11" and Gene Kranz' autobiography. The problem was fitting the information into 15 minutes!
Anyway, I managed. I took just under 15 minutes and there was time for the inevitable "was it all a hoax" question. I got a few laughs, in the places I wanted them and it was great to see some old friends who came along just to hear me! A lot of people said complimentary things to me so I came away quite pleased with myself.
I talked about the the alarms as Apollo 11 approached the lunar surface, the overshoot to a flat landing ground and the lack of fuel, and about how flimsy the Lunar Module was.
I tried to explain why they couldn't just blast off and fly straight to the Moon like Dan Dare would have done. I used a pepper pot for a rocket and the secretary's baldy heid for the Moon, no vegetation, you see.
I told them why they had to have things like "launch windows", finished off by telling them that Armstrong and Aldrin would both be 80 years old in 2010, the final mission was just over 3 years after the first one, and nobody has been back since.
It was bloody hard work preparing for it and it could just be stretched into a longer talk one day.