In 1969, Art made a reservation for a trip to the moon.
Marcia Hoexter also made a moon trip reservation in 1969. At the time, her name was Marcia Reidinger and she lived in Silver Spring, Maryland. She and Art were among 93,000 Earthlings who wrote to Pan Am to add their names to a list maintained by the airline.
“So many people have shown serious interest in going to the moon as passengers – despite the astronaut by Frank Borman warning that the lunar landscape is ‘vast, lonely, forbidden’ – that Pan Am has seriously started keeping a reservation list,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer said. Douglas Bloomfield wrote this April.
If Burma-Shave’s contest for a trip to Mars – the subject of a column last week – was still intended as a joke, Pan Am’s foray into space travel seemed entirely plausible. And although the airline began compiling the list before the 1968 release of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the appearance in that film of a Pan Am-branded “Space Clipper” only intensified interest.
Pan Am’s list began unofficially in 1964 when an Austrian journalist named Gerard Pistor walked into the office of a Vienna travel agent and asked about a trip to the moon. Rather than throw Gerhard out on the street, the travel agent put him in touch with two airlines: Soviet Aeroflot and Pan American World Airways.
“Aeroflot jokingly responded that the first flight was booked, but there might be space on the second,” the Washington Post said. Steven Mufson written in 1989 in a story about of President George HW Bush spatial aspirations. “Two weeks later, Pan Am accepted his reservation and said they expected the flight to depart around the year 2000.”
Other potential passengers began approaching the airline. A Pan Am spokesman said, “We told them we had no plans at the moment, but we’d be happy to take your name, and the thing snowballed.”
By 1968, Pan Am’s roster had grown to about 180 people. The success of Apollo 8 that year nearly doubled it. Among those on the list were Senator Barry M. Goldwater (R-Arizona) and Russian-American aviation pioneer Alexander P. de Seversky.
Also on the list was Augustine Dillona Philadelphia resident, who told a reporter, “I’m cursed with a blessed Irish imagination.”
She added, “I haven’t done many adventurous things in my life. But I would welcome this opportunity to get closer to God. We don’t seem to appreciate God and His wonders here on Earth. Maybe if we got a little closer, we’d appreciate Him more.
Hoexter — who now lives on Capitol Hill — remembers thinking, “Sounds cool,” when she heard about the Pan Am roster. After contacting the airline, she received a membership card on the moon theme certifying his place in the “First Moon Flights” club.
Marcia was member #16,637, well ahead of Art Chimes #49,110. Pan Am closed its waiting list on March 3, 1971, at approximately 93,000 members.
TWA said it also maintained a list, but its marketing department seemed unable to garner the same publicity as its rival. Maybe TWA didn’t want to shell out for numbered cards and personalized envelopes to send them in.
Despite the accomplishments of its early years, Pan Am went bankrupt in 1991. Air travel has changed a lot since then. Art has never been to space, but he covered the space program as a reporter for Voice of America.
Retired, he now lives in Arlington, Virginia, where he reflects on an irony: decade after decade, aviation has progressed, breakthrough after breakthrough.
“Today the experience [of flying] is enough to deter you from getting on a plane unless you absolutely have to,” he said.
In the form letter Art received from Pan Am, Vice President of Sales James Montgomery wrote: “The start date of the service is not yet known. Equipment and layout will likely be subject to government approvals. Fares are not fully resolved and can be out of this world.
Today, Virgin Galactic is charging $450,000 for a brief taste of weightlessness. Blue Origin — founded by the owner of The Washington Post Jeff Bezos — has not made its prices public. In the 1969 Bloomfield article, he reflects on the cost of Apollo 8 and how the government could have saved money.
Using a fare formula the airlines had suggested to the Civil Aeronautics Board – a flat rate of $10 plus 6.95 cents a mile – three first-class round-the-moon tickets would have cost $11,196,480, rather less than the 310 million dollars that the Apollo 8 mission cost the United States. taxpayers.
Bloomfield wrote: “The lower price is a product of the free enterprise system. Some sources say this reflects the savings taxpayers could enjoy if sending a man to the moon were a competitive private industry venture rather than another socialist government program.
I suppose Elon Musk might fit.