By Betty Shearer
As promised, I’m beginning this week’s column with a continuation of last week’s. Just didn’t have space last week to share the things I’d forgotten about the Appolo 13 voyage and I’m sure many of you are in the same boat.
It started out as a routine moon walk mission—only the second—but still deemed routine by the media. It took the mission getting into serious trouble for the media to get interested.
First mishap was the loss of one of the five engines. The crew and Houston staff knew that the craft could do its job with only four, so it continued. Then after a short time in space, the oxygen tanks were stirred and this caused an explosion and a leaking of this precious commodity. The only way this was brought under control was to shut down much of the mother ship’s (Odyssey) equipment. The moon landing was immediately scrubbed.
All three astronauts were transferred to the Lunar Limb, designed only for sustaining life for two crew members for a short period of time. The oxygen supply was okay., but the critical thing here was the carbon dioxide build-up. The CO2 scrubbers on the Odyssey were plentiful, so why not borrow some of them questioned Houston Control. Unfortunately they were not interchangeable. The flight director’s quote was priceless— “A government project.” Gathering everything available in space, a team of engineers was told to adapt the space ship’s scrubbers to fit the Limb. This they did, using some of my favorite tools—duct tape, plastic bag and a cardboard box. The thing looked like a poor school science project—but it worked.
It was decided that the only way to get the mission back on course for the homeward journey was to take the ship around the moon. It worked. Much of this calculation was done with a pencil, pad and slide-rule. Now, coming up on the 39th anniversary of this flight, most of us think we’ve had the capability of computers forever. However, had they had all the computer science we have today, they would not have had the power to use it. Major problem in getting the capsule back to earth was finding enough power to make the necessary corrections for re-entry and that was only 20 amps (about what it takes to run a home coffee pot). The first crew on the “13” Mission was Jim Leavell, Mississippian Fred Haise, and Ken Maddley. At the zero hour Ken was replaced by Jack Swaggart, because Ken had been exposed to measles. It was a good thing, because Ken spent most of the flight time in a simulator, finding those precious 20 amps for the safe trip back to earth. He came up with reversing surplus power from the Limb—a procedure that had never been tried. Normally power would be transferred to the Limb, not from. This worked.
The final course correction had to be made flying the ship manually—another first. Using the earth for a visual in the window, this was successfully done. Jim’s mother, earlier in the movie had said, “If they could build a flying washing machine, Jimmy could land it.” I think she was right.
On re-entry the non-communication time on previous missions had been about three minutes. Appolo 13’s was over four. I knew the end of the story and it was still a cliff hanger. Again, I breathed comfortably as the splash down came. However, I could better sympathize with these families watching this, than I did in the real-time drama.
If you haven’t seen this movie watch it, if you’ve seen it watch it again.
Attending the first of the Methodist Lenten Luncheons Thursday was a real treat. Enjoyed the very timely message by Presbyterian Pastor Harold Spraberry, who is an excellent speaker. The special music was presented by one of my favorite vocalist, Barron Caulfield. Food, as always, was delicious. The second of this series will be held Thursday at noon. Preaching will be another of my favorite folks, Rev. Raymond Aven, and presenting the music will be Brad Sartor, Youth Director at FUM. I’m looking forward to hearing him. Everyone is invited to attend these programs.
Friday I gave away the rest of Woodland Hill’s theater seats and it was lots of fun.
Coming for them were Mike Word, whom I’d dealt with from the beginning. He’s actually form Hernando, but now instructs at the state’s fire academy, thus his connection to John’s Baptist Church, south of Brandon. With him was Paul Webb, another member of the church. Pastor Jeff Harris was unable to come, so Mike’s father, Eddie, a retired Memphis fire fighter, came to help. He lives in Hernando. He was very interesting and very entertaining. Told us several stories from his career. The thing that impressed me most, though, was that he stated, “The best part of my years on the force was bringing nine out alive.” Then he went on to say that he’d also brought many out who were not alive. I was able to tell him that this was very important, also. I explained that I’d have given anything to have had Ed rescued before he burned, even though I knew he was dead when he was hit by that truck.
Also assisting were Chad and Josh Ferguson, sons of Vickie and Don Ferguson of the Anchor Community. These young men are presently attending the fire academy. Remembering they were from the Valley, Mike enlisted their help before they left to come home for the weekend.
Woodland Hills was responsible for some of the cupcakes served at Y-Fest Saturday night. I was elected to transport ours and since I was there I volunteered to help serve if I was needed. Jean Edwards and Linda Gholson says, “Don’t leave until we see if we need you.” After a few minutes I knew I was not really needed, but I was having so much fun they couldn’t run me off. This is a tremendous program. I enjoyed visiting with so many folks that I rarely get to see and then got to attend the service. Evangelist Walt Barnes was a tremendous speaker and his message was one of the best I’ve every heard. Nick Fry, Praise and Worship Leader, was also excellent. About 300 young people, from Yalobusha and adjoining counties attended..
Hamburgers, grilled by Joel Rogers and his staff, were delicious, the serving crew, directed by Jean, did an excellent job, Linda, Bro. Truman Scarbrough, Lane True, and I’m sure others, coordinated the event perfectly. Wish I could remember all the names of those who helped, but that’s impossible. Someone suggested that I’d have a great column this week, if I used all the material gathered at this event. They were right, but unfortunately I didn’t take a note pad and my mind is not good enough to remember all that great material, and as usual much of it was deemed unpublishable. Don’t know why folks throw all this fine material at me and then immediately say, “Don’t put that in your column!”
We should have pictures and a write-up of this event in next week’s paper.
Was great to have Mrs. Etta Hodnett back in church with us Sunday. She’s been in Memphis with daughters, Martha and Wanda, and Daughter-in-law Leigh, for the past few weeks. We do miss her when she’s not in her appointed seat.
Also have been missing Mrs. Mary Sayles. Report is that she’s improving and hopefully will soon be back with us.
Becky York was absent Sunday. She had a knee replacement last week. Travis says she’s in lots of pain, but is recuperating nicely. We do miss her and hope she soon back.
Mrs. Mae Bell was out Sunday, due to a broken hand. Missed her and hope she’s soon able to be out again.
Thanks to all who ask about Mom each week. She was fine, but I didn’t get to spend much time with her over the weekend. Did feed her chicken and dumplins, turnip greens and strawberries on Saturday—some of her favorites.
Weather has been great, but noticed this morning we’re in for more cold temps, starting tomorrow. Spring is just around the corner, I’m sure. Heard several gaggle of geese headed north last week.
Enjoy the good days of this season, tolerate the less than perfect—we need them all.