Apollo astronauts, crew members reunite at AirVenture

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - EAA AirVenture this week is marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo space program.

A number of Apollo astronauts gathered Friday night for a special tribute -- and the biggest reunion of Apollo crew members since 1994.

Sharing a single stage on the EAA grounds, these members of the Apollo space program are considered American heroes by many attending the airshow.

"When I saw the Apollo program was here, I said, 'OK, I'm going. I'm going to be here.' So it drew me because of the astronauts," Rene McKinnon from Ontario, Canada, said.

The gathering included a number of astronauts who are now the faces of American efforts to put men on the moon -- and also the people behind them, like Gene Kranz, best known for being the mission control flight director who helped bring Apollo 13 safely home after an explosion on the way to the moon.

"Apollo launched, and we had this horrible launch pad fire. We recovered from that. We wrote a lot of words in our vocabulary, but that day we wrote 'tough' and 'competent.' We never again shirked from our responsibility, because we're ever accountable, what we do and what we fail to do," Kranz said.

In the audience for the event was Jim Snowden, who worked as an Apollo engineer.

"Can you imagine man leaving this planet? They did. I think it was the greatest thing for engineers in my age to work on it, because we were born in that time which was perfect for engineers," Snowden said.

"I think there's still a large interest in the Apollo program, in the space program," EAA Museum programs coordinator Chris Henry said. "I hope it generates a new generation of people who want to come out and go out after those hard things."

We're told many of the astronauts are members of the Experimental Aircraft Association and enjoyed coming out here to see many of the other aviation sights as well.

Astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell will be back in front of crowds at 10 o'clock Saturday morning in Warbirds Alley, talking about their training jets and Borman's personal T-34.

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