The Dawn of the Career of Neil Armstrong

An Important Archive Documenting How America’s Great Aviator Got His Wings: Including His Original Signed Orders to Report for Advanced Training, Where He Would Become a Naval Aviator, As Well As His Certification That He Is Now Certified to Fly Fighter Planes

Archive of 8 artifacts, including the earliest and perhaps most important document signed by Armstrong (then 20 years old) to reach the market

Armstrong’s entire career was built on his training as an Aviator

Acquired from an Armstrong family member and never offered for sale before

Neil...

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The Dawn of the Career of Neil Armstrong

An Important Archive Documenting How America’s Great Aviator Got His Wings: Including His Original Signed Orders to Report for Advanced Training, Where He Would Become a Naval Aviator, As Well As His Certification That He Is Now Certified to Fly Fighter Planes

Archive of 8 artifacts, including the earliest and perhaps most important document signed by Armstrong (then 20 years old) to reach the market

Armstrong’s entire career was built on his training as an Aviator

Acquired from an Armstrong family member and never offered for sale before

Neil Armstrong is the most famous aviator in history.  After his aviation training, in 1955, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). His first assignment was with the NACA Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn) in Cleveland. Over the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

As a research pilot at NASA’s Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, he was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft. He flew over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders.  Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962, and he was assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission. Gemini 8 was launched on March 16, 1966, and Armstrong performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the moon and first to step on its surface. That step gave him immortality.

Indeed, his entire career stemmed from his decision to enter into a career in aviation and to become a certified pilot.

In 1947, Armstrong enrolled at Purdue University and studied Aeronautical Engineering. He was aided financially by the Holloway Plan, which meant that he would be in the Navy for at least 3 years halfway through college, and then be allowed to return to school. On January 26, 1949, the Navy called him to active duty. He reported to the Naval Air Station at Pensacola at age 18, and was commissioned as a Midshipman later that year. He then began flying the Navy’s SNJ aircraft for basic flight training. Carrier qualifications received at Pensacola ended Basic Training, and he moved on to ad­vanced training, where he would actually get certified. He was ordered to Corpus Christi to begin advanced flight training in the F8F-1 Bearcat, a single-engine carrier-based fighter aircraft.

This training lasted almost 18 months, at the end of which he qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot and USS Wright. “I requested fighters and fortunately was assigned to fighters,” Armstrong would later recall.

At Cabaniss Field, one of Corpus Christi’s six outlying auxiliary bases, Armstrong began his indoctrination with VF ATU (Advanced Training Unit) No. 2 (VF-ATU2). In the three months ending June 21, 1950, Neil made thirty-nine flights and logged over seventy hours in the air, all but one hour of it solo. At that point, he was sent back to Pensacola to make his next six required qualification landings. In August, Armstrong was deemed “Field Qualified.”  On August 16, 1950, five days after Armstrong aced his carrier quali­fications in the F8F, Naval Air Training Command Headquarters at NAS Pensacola informed the midshipman by letter that he had “successfully completed the full course of the prescribed syllabus of training for Naval Aviators” and was “hereby designated a Naval Aviator.”

These 8 documents are Armstrong’s original orders to report for duty, first in Corpus Christi in March and then in Pensacola in June, as well as his certifications to fly in June after his Texas stint, and his final certification that he had completed the work required to be certified as a Naval Pilot.  Armstrong himself has signed this document, marking this the earliest autograph of Armstrong ever to reach the market to date and perhaps the most important.

This archive descends through Viola Armstrong, Neil’s mother, and was acquired by us from the family member to whom she gave it. It has never before been offered for sale.

Neil Armstrong’s original orders to attend advanced training, Order number 334, March 7, 1950, signed by various officials, being his original instructions to report to Corpus Christi.  “You are further assigned  and will proceed without delay to Corpus Christi, Texas and report to the Chief of Naval Air Advanced Training, Naval Air Station, for temporary additional duty involving flying under instruction in the Advanced Training Phase and for such other temporary additional duty…” The order further lists instructions for him and notes that he is on active duty as a Midshipman until 23 February or until “you are separated from the Aeronautical Organization.”

Neil Armstrong’s original signed confirmation of his orders. Document signed, Neil Armstrong, March 9-10, 1950, being Armstrong’s affirming that he has received his orders and has reported for his training.  The document notes these, as well as the date and time of his departure from Pensacola, and the same for his arrival at Corpus Christi. This is also signed by JS Hall, the Military Personnel Officer, confirming his arrival and informing Armstrong that government quarters are available.

Now at Corpus Christie, he is assigned to his duty. Subsequent orders signed, by various officials, from the Naval Air Advanced Training Command, Corpus Christi, Texas, March 10, 1950.  The document subject reads: “Assignment of Flight Trainee – Temporary additional duty involving flying under instruction.”  “You will report immediately to the commanding officer, Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, for temporary additional duty involving flying under instruction in a student pool status awaiting assignment to an advanced training unit.”  HB Walton has signed at the bottom affirming that Armstrong did report as instructed.

Subsequent orders signed, March 16, 1950, by JS Hall, noting that Armstrong was “detached this date” and that he “will proceed immediately for… duty involving flying under instruction in VF ATU-2.”

Subsequent orders signed, March 16, 1950, by RW Palmer.  “Reported this date for temporary additional duty involving flying under instruction in VF ATU-2.”

Armstrong is ordered back to Pensacola, where he would complete Advanced Training. Order signed, June 21, 1950, Pensacola, FL, being Armstrong’s orders to “proceed without delay to Pensacola” for “duty involving flying under instruction in connection with carrier qualification in service-type aircraft.”

Armstrong is certified to fly fighter planes. Document signed, by EO Brudvig for Admiral RC Bauer, June 23, 1950.  “Completed temporary additional assignment and specialized in F8F (Grumman Bearcar) type aircraft.”

Armstrong has completed Advanced Training. Order signed, August 14, 1950, Pensacola, FL, stating “Temporary additional duty involving flying under instruction completed.”  The first part of the document states Armstrong’s orders from June to “report immediately to the Commanding Officer, NAAS, Corey Field, Pensacola, FL for temporary additional duty involving flying under instruction in connection with Carrier Qualification in service type aircraft.”

This is a unique archive relating to the start of Armstrong’s career, and undoubtedly the most significant Armstrong material we have seen reach the market.

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