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Activities Around Flagstaff


In the morning the astronauts headed over to Arizona State College for classroom geology and geography training by Shoemaker and college astronomer Art Adel.

After this briefing, six of the astronauts headed over to the airport where, at the request of the Chamber of Commerce, they each left their handprints in cake cans filled with concrete (as of 2018 the USGS Flagstaff office retains possession of these mementos.)  Several Flagstaff dignitaries, including Chamber President Potter, Councilman Peter Lindemann, and Public Works Director Art Kennedy bid the astronauts farewell before the spacemen flew back to Houston aboard the noon Frontier Airlines flight.

The other three astronauts stayed in Flagstaff for several more hours to ski and talk with students.  At 11:50 a.m., just before their colleagues flew out of Flagstaff, Borman, Lovell, and Conrad headed to Flagstaff High School and were greeted by Mayor Wheeler and School Superintendant W.F. Killip.  The astronauts then talked for about 30 minutes to 1900 junior and senior high students and teachers who gathered in the gym. As each astronaut was introduced the students madly cheered; when Borman was introduced, two young ladies even fainted.

A half an hour later, the trio went to city hall to make their own handprints before eating lunch at The Gables Restaurant. Lovell, wanting to learn more about Sunset Crater geology, then headed back to the crater with Gene Shoemaker before joining the others and going to the Arizona Snow Bowl with Potter and Chamber past president Paul Weaver.  They didn’t have a chance to ski, but they did ride up the new chairlift on Agassiz Peak and enjoyed a grand view of the surrounding cinder cone-splattered landscape. They spent 1 ½ hours at Snow Bowl before heading back to town.

That night, at about 7 p.m., the astronauts went over to Arizona State College and spoke to about 900 students and local residents at the Student Union auditorium.  They then answered questions for about 15 minutes, shook hands with President J. Lawrence Walkup, and then headed over to the airport where Mayor Wheeler, Potter, and City Clerk Harry Field bid them adieu prior to their 8 p.m. Frontier flight back to Houston.

Through the ensuing years, Flagstaff would welcome the Next Nine and other astronauts back to Flagstaff for in-depth geology training, instrument testing, and other training necessary to fly to the Moon.  Neil Armstrong again visited the Northland in March 1964, going to Sunset Crater and also riding a mule into the Grand Canyon to study its geology.