50 years ago this week, America was celebrating it's tremendous success in space: man landing on the moon.

But there's a big connection between our area and that historic event.

Naval Air Station Pensacola is often thought of now as the home of the Blue Angels.

But NAS Pensacola officials said the facility also helped train many astronauts.

Hill Goodspeed, the Historian with the National Naval Aviation Museum, said, "Really, you can look at the voyage to the moon for many an astronaut began right here in the Florida panhandle, learning to fly for the Navy or the Marine Corps."

That includes the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

His picture is featured at an exhibit here.

Armstrong's military career started in 1949, when he reported to his first duty station: Naval Air Station Pensacola, where he learned to fly.

Goodspeed said the first American in space, Alan Shepard, and the last person to walk on the moon, Gene Cernan, trained at NAS Pensacola, too.

Goodspeed said, "When they were going through Navy flight training here, there was no inkling that any of them were going to be astronauts. Most of them went through training here before the space program even started, so their training would have been like any other Naval aviator."

But once they were selected as astronauts, Goodspeed said they had unique types of training.

He said, "The astronauts did, for many years, their water survival training here at NAS Pensacola because, in the early space program, the capsules, when they returned from their voyages to the stars, they splashed down in either the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, so the astronauts had to have some level or proficiency in water survival in case, maybe, there was a delay in picking them up or something like that, and they had to survive on a life raft for a period of time."

And Goodspeed says the training of Armstrong and other astronauts here at NAS Pensacola is a sense of pride for the facility and for Naval aviation.

Goodspeed said, "Each era was marked by individuals who were trying to push the envelope, as they say, in aviation, trying to explore the bounds of flight and, really, the voyage to the moon 50 years ago was, I mean, that was the ultimate bounds of flight. "

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