It’s been nearly 50 years since 97-year-old Warrick Bourque helped put a man on the moon.
This week Bourque, a retired Boeing engineer on the Apollo program, got to see a tribute to its history for the first time. The Museum of Flight’s newest exhibit, Apollo, takes a look back at the space race.
“I went through the first launching which was quite an experience because as you know it was the largest rocket that was ever fired by a human being,” Bourque said. “I was at NASA for the first four Apollo launchings. But I was there for the first two manned launchings and then I went back to Seattle.”
Bourque spoke of the stress involved with the project, but he also acknowledged how nice it is to have been involved with this significant project in history. At the time he was working for Boeing, who worked for NASA. He remembers when he was first asked to work on the project.
“They asked if I would I consider going to the Apollo program and moving to New Orleans? And I said of course if there’s an appreciable salary raise,” Bourque said with a laugh. “The experience was a very enjoyable, but strenuous time, because we were always dealing with stuff that could kill you.”
At one point, the power changed hands. Bourque worked for Boeing who worked for Nasa, but after a cockpit fire killed three astronauts, Nasa worked for Boeing for a short time.
“One day I was getting instruction and the plan of the day from NASA and the very next day I was telling NASA what the direction of the day was,” Bourque said.
Bourque admits that, at 97 years old, it was tough for him to leave his assisted living home to make the trip to see the exhibit at the Museum, but when it was all over he expressed his gratitude that this is on display.
“It was quite exciting and quite adventurous, and I’m glad to see the museum bringing a lot of it to life so people can see what actually went on,” Bourque said with a smile.
The Museum of Flight’s Apollo exhibit is now permanent. In two years they will welcome the Smithsonian’s Apollo 11 exhibit as well.
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