Friday, May 23, 2014

The "Pad Führer" Mocks Gemini 10 Crew

Guenter Wendt, original pad leader, or "pad führer" as the astronauts jokingly nicknamed him due to his strong German accent & unyielding rules, oversaw spacecrafts on the launch pads and all who had access to ensure safety for all those involved. 

To ease tension in the white room, he was well-known for giving gag gifts to the crew before they strapped in for liftoff.

Gemini 10: Weeks before liftoff Astronauts Mike Collins and John Young had broken off bits & pieces of the spacecraft. Young had then put in a request for a pair of pliers to aid in the manipulation of some switches aboard the capsule but it was denied. Wendt, of course, had their backs and made sure they indeed did get a pair of pliers... made of Styrofoam... and a little over-sized. [Referenced in Carrying the Fire and Two Sides of the Moon]
Wendt & Young
Credit: NASA

The crew often reciprocated his humor though! From the book, First Man
On July 16, 1969, Armstrong received a crescent moon carved out of Styrofoam from the pad leader, Guenter Wendt, who described it as a key to the Moon. In return, Armstrong gave Wendt a ticket for a "space taxi" "good between two planets"
Wendt helps Glenn into a Mercury capsule -- Proof that he always had their backs
Credit: NASA

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