Alan Lavern Bean was born in Wheeler, Texas, on March 15, 1932, son of Arnold H. and Frances (Murphy) Bean. He graduated from Paschal High School, Fort Worth, Texas, and on May 4, 1949 enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve. He was an Electronics Technician Striker at the Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas, until September 1950, when he was honorably discharged. He next attended the University of Texas at Austin, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. While there, he was a member of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps and upon graduation was commissioned Ensign in the U. S. Navy, January 29, 1955. He subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date from December 11, 1969.
After receiving his commission in 1955, he reported for flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, and from February to June 1956 had further training at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Chase Field, Beeville, Texas. Designated Naval Aviator on June 6, 1956, he served with Attack Squadron FORTY-FOUR, based at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, until February 1960. He then reported as a student at the Naval Test Pilot School, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. Upon completing his instruction in November 1960, he remained at the Test Center until February 1963 to serve as Attack Plane Project Officer in the Service Test Division. In that capacity, he flew all types of naval aircraft (jet, propeller, and helicopter models) to evaluate the suitability for operational Navy use. He participated in the initial trials of the A5A and the A4A jet attack planes.
Following instruction at the School of Aviation Safety at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles, he reported in May 1963 for additional instruction with Attack Squadron FORTY-FOUR. In October of that year, he joined Attack Squadron ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-TWO, attached to the Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, Florida, as an A-4 Light Jet Attack Pilot. One of the third group of astronauts selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, he was assigned in January 1964 to the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas. He served as backup Command Pilot for the Gemini X mission and the backup Command Pilot for the second manned Apollo flight. He was designated Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo XII mission in April 1969.
Captain Bean was Lunar Module Pilot of the three-man crew of Apollo XII, which also included Captain Charles Conrad, Jr, USN, and Captain Richard F. Gordon, Jr., USN. During this mission, which took place from November 14 to 24, 1969, he participated, along with Captain Conrad, in two moon walks totaling eight hours on November 20. During the first walk they set up an array of scientific experiments referred to as ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package) which consists of five main experiments: a solar wind spectrometer, a lunar ionosphere detector, a lunar atmosphere detector, a magnetometer, and a highly sensitive seismometer. In addition to ASLEP experiments, they gathered rock and dust samples and during a second moon walk they retrieved and examined parts of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft which had been in the lunar atmosphere since April 1967.
He was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for the Apollo XII mission.
Captain Bean has the National Defense Service Medal with bronze star.
Captain Bean has flown twenty-seven aircraft and logged more than 3,500 hours flying time, including 3,000 hours in a jet aircraft.
He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and Delta Kappa Epsilon. His hobbies are surfing, painting and handball. He also enjoys swimming, diving, and gymnastics.