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Vern 02-16-2018 11:57 PM

Neil Armstrong at Estes Rocket Launch
Sometimes we open up our email box and find an unexpected and pleasant surprise. The recent email I received from Herman Henie in part read, “Please go to my YouTube page and you will find my video of Neil Armstrong and myself, Herman Heine, launching off Estes rockets in our neighborhood”. Herman, now a brick mason, indicated he first began flying Estes model rockets in 1968.

A couple of emails later, Herman provided a more detailed description:

“This video was taken in October 1997 at Cleves park in Cleves Ohio. I was working on Mr. Armstrong’s home at the time, and my son Adam wrote him a letter to come to our rocket launch, and he gladly accepted the invitation. On the day of the event the boys brought their rockets to school and told their teachers that they were going to launch off rockets after school at the park with Neil Armstrong. The teachers did not believe them but came to the park anyway. Mr. Armstrong and I arrived at the park about one hour before the boys came. We were setting up the area and were able to talk about how he got interested in flight. He told me he would build control line planes with the money he made from odd jobs. And then got his pilot’s license before he could drive. I told him that I delivered newspapers after school and all the money I earned, I bought Estes rocket kits from my local hobby shop. I built many rockets from the Scout to Big Bertha to the Saturn V.”

“We had a great time that day. It was a dream come true for me, but for the boys, they were just glad to be launching off rockets. The Apollo days were history to them and being with Neil Armstrong was something that just did not sink in at the time. Many of my scouts became Eagle Scouts and they look back at the event now and realize how special it was.”

In the attached video, Neil Armstrong is wearing a yellow hat. The guy in the black hat is Herman Heine.

I wish I could have been there! -- Vern

BEC 02-17-2018 02:43 AM

What a cool story! Thanks, Vern!

rocketguy101 02-17-2018 08:25 AM

Thanks for sharing that story! And thanks Mr. Henie for paying it forward to those boys!

edit: I love how Mr. Armstrong kicks into "perfesser" mode and presents a lecture on propulsion...after I found out he became an Aerospace Engineering professor, I always wondered what it would be like to show up the first day of class and find out you had Neil Armstrong for your professor :)

tbzep 02-17-2018 08:51 AM

They got to hang out with first of only 12 people to ever set foot on the moon. I can only imagine how I would have felt being a kid and launching rockets with him.

rocketguy101 02-17-2018 09:13 AM

Vern, did you ever get to meet Mr. Armstrong? I know you've met a few astronauts, and you've inspired many to become astronauts, do you have a list of the ones you've met?

JohnNGA 02-17-2018 10:14 AM


GuyNoir 02-17-2018 10:29 AM

Nice find! Thanks for sharing, Vern!

Cheers, Bunny

SCooke123 02-17-2018 11:11 AM

Great video!!! Thank you for sharing it with us Vern.

LeeR 02-17-2018 11:18 AM


What a great experience that day would have been! Truly one of my biggest desires growing up during the Apollo Program was to meet Neil Armstrong.

Vern, I happened to meet you during a tour of Estes Industries in 1966. Bill Simon was our tour guide. That was an incredible experience for a 13 year old kid!

Hope to see you at NARAM-60 --its been awhile!

Vern 02-17-2018 11:54 AM

Originally Posted by rocketguy101
Vern, did you ever get to meet Mr. Armstrong? I know you've met a few astronauts, and you've inspired many to become astronauts, do you have a list of the ones you've met?

David -- Yes, I've had the privilege of meeting some of the original astronauts who inspired all of us to get involved, and many of the young people they inspired to to become astronauts, then follow the original's into space. I never had the opportunity to meet Neil Armstrong. The New York Times article below tell about how he enjoyed a private life on his farm in Ohio.

Here is a further quote from Mr. Heine that fills in some detail on the story.

" Mr. Armstrong was living in my hometown area at the time of our rocket launch. He met Carol and they were married in 1994. Carol had a house in Indian Hill a town just east of Cincinnati Ohio. She was living in a big house there. Her husband died in a plane crash in Florida in 1989. Mr. Armstrong sill kept his farm in Lebanon Ohio. In 1996 they started construction of their new home in the back yard of the old one. I was able to speak to him often. He even told me about his mission on Gemini 8.
There is a book out called First Man, it is an autobiography on Neil written by James R Hansen. A good read for sure."

Sorry, I have not kept a list of astronauts I've met. -- Vern

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