Published May 24, 2012
In a four part interview with Neil Armstrong, the man who stopped the world back in 1969 with his historic walk on the moon, Armstrong talked through those final knuckle-whitening minutes when he realized Eagle's auto-pilot was trying to set them amongst a minefield of slopes and boulders on the lunar surface.
"Those slopes are steep, the rocks are very large -- the size of automobiles," he told Alex Malley, CEO of accounting firm CPA Australia, narrating over a Google Moon version of the landing.
"It's certainly not a place where I want to land, so I took over manually from the computer, the auto-pilot. Like a helicopter, on out to the west, to try to find a smoother, more level landing spot."
Footage shows Commander Armstrong spots a smooth spot other side of crater.
"I'm running low on fuel. I've got less than two minutes of fuel," he told Malley.
The actual footage shows Eagle's rocket engine starting to kick up moon dust. Then a 30-second fuel warning pings.
"I need to get it down here on the ground pretty soon, before we run out," Armstrong said.
Then a light thump, followed by the immortal words: "Tranquility to base here. The Eagle has landed."
The interview with the first man to step foot on the moon aired over the past week on Australian television on the CPA Australia-sponsored show “The Bottom Line.” Armstrong is just as famous for his reluctance to talk about his experience, having given the barest handful of television interviews since that landmark day in 1969.
So how did Australian accountants get to shoot the breeze in a 40-minute one-on-one with one of the most in-demand, yet seldom heard heroes of modern history, Neil Armstrong?
Malley knew something that a lot of people didn't know about Neil Armstrong, he said: "His dad was an auditor."
The interview is as much a tribute to Malley's desire to make it happen as it is to the man who stopped the world back in 1969.
"When I raised the issue of approaching Neil and speaking with him, it became immediately clear how many people thought it couldn't be done,” Malley told news.com.au. "I very much feel my form of leadership is to show people you can do things. CPA Australia talking to Neil Armstrong, I think should be a clear message that anyone to do it."
"The most compelling thing I felt about him was his humility -- his commitment to his team, his deference to everyone except himself, his respect for the Russians -- I found that quite extraordinary."
Even at the age of 82, he's not comfortable in the public spotlight. Last year, his nerves were painfully obvious as he presented an Apollo enthusiast's recreation of the moon landing using Google Moon images to a U.S. House Committee on Space, Science and Technology.
He's far more relaxed talking Malley through it live. In fact, Commander Armstrong's ease and openness has been a noteworthy feature of the hour-long interview.
A CPA Australia spokesman said the response to the series has been overwhelming and "growing by the day."
"We’ve received an extraordinary amount of feedback ... even [from] a number of Neil’s close friends and colleagues who were really pleased to see how relaxed he was in sharing his story publically," he said.
In the past four weeks, Armstrong has spoke at length about his days in the Air Force, U.S. Government policy, leadership, success and the deaths of former comrades.
He wound up his final interview by tackling the most controversial issue (yes, Malley went there): Was the moon landing faked?
Armstrong answers with a chuckle.
"People love conspiracy theories," he said.
"They're very attractive, but they were never a concern to me -- because I know that one day somebody's going to fly back up there and pick up that camera I left there."