Having been involved with the early space
race I got to know all of those astronauts. I have been to Kennedy
and Johnson Space centers many, many times covering those flights.
The one that I got to know best was Alan Shepard. He had been our
color guy for many of the flights. He was a real down to earth guy,
loved an occasional drink, played practical jokes and was very knowledge
about the entire space program. I had many interesting moments with
When the Space Mountain was opened in Disney World, a group of
Astronauts were invited to the first operation. Requested to participate
were the six surviving members of the original Mercury Seven. Alan
Shepard, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Walter Schirra,
Donald Slayton and the widow of Virgil Grissom.
I best recollect his telling me about the ride in Space Mountain.
He went on to say that he was more terrified on that ride, than
when he sat atop the Atlas rocket for his first ride in space. After
a number of people were injured the ride closed for sometime, it
was rehabilitated and reopened a few years later.
Here area few Alan Shepard quotes:
Shortly before the launch, Shepard stated "Please, dear
God, don't let me f-- up."
This has since become known among aviators as "Shepard's Prayer."When
reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the
Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, 'The fact
that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.'
Alan Shepard waited in the spacecraft for four hours. The weather
caused part of the delay. Clouds would prevent filming of the launch.
And some last-minute repairs were made to his radio system. Tired
of waiting, he told the ground crew, "Why don't you fellows
solve your little problems and light this candle.”
Shepard died of leukemia near his home in Pebble Beach, California
on July 21, 1998, two years after being diagnosed with that disease.
His wife of 53 years, the former Louise Brewer, died five weeks
afterward. Both were cremated, and their ashes were committed to
the sea .
They had three daughters, Laura (born in 1947), Juliana (born
in 1951) and Alice born (1951)