Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Aircraft Configuration Plan for the Recovery of the Apollo 11 Astronauts

Title: Apollo 11 Recovery Aircraft Configuration, USS Hornet (CVS-12)
Accession #: NHHC 1969-452-AD
Circa: 1969
Medium: Paper
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command

One sheet of paper with typed list of the helicopters, personnel, and equipment required for the recovery of the Apollo 11 astronauts, titled "Apollo 11 A/C Configuration."

The eight aircraft listed are SH-3 Sea Kings from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Four (HS-4) assigned to USS Hornet (CVS-12). They were engaged in the primary recovery operations for the Apollo 11 splashdown. The Configuration column lists the equipment carried by each of the helicopters for the mission. 

Helicopter #66, designated Recovery One, was the primary recovery aircraft for the mission, responsible for deploying the decontamination swimmer and taking aboard the astronauts. Its list of equipment is specially outfitted for its mission to include a NASA-provided troop seat cover for the astronauts to sit on once aboard the helicopter, decontamination equipment, and a bag of BIGs (Biological Isolation Garment). 

The two swim teams were on-site first. They stabilized the command module by securing a flotation collar to it and tethered a life raft near the hatch. Once #66 was at the landing site, the decontamination swimmer, Lieutenant Clancy Hatleberg, jumped into the water near the command module. The bag of BIGs and the decontamination equipment were lowered to him in the raft. He donned one suit and passed the other three into the command module for the three astronauts. After they had changed into the suits and exited into the raft, the decontamination solution was used to wipe down the astronauts and Hatleberg to ensure that all of the potential moon pathogens were killed. 

At a signal from Hatleberg, the Billie Pugh net, a net-like basket, was lowered to the raft to bring the astronauts into the helicopter one at a time. After all three astronauts were safely aboard, #66 returned to the Hornet. Hatleberg and the other UDT swimmers remained with the command module until the Hornet could arrive to retrieve the module.

Published: Fri Jun 21 09:42:14 EDT 2019