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W. David Woods

As a child, David Woods was enchanted by the Apollo missions and it never really left him. With the arrival of the internet, his interest blossomed.

His other interests include photography, astronomy, electronics and an appreciation of the Scottish landscape, its geology and its beauty. His full-time job is as a video editor at BBC Scotland.

He co-authored the Haynes Lunar Rover Manual with Christopher Riley and Phil Dolling.

Personal Website: www.wdwoods.com

I am part of that stratum in society who watched the Apollo Moon landings as youngsters and if the truth be told, the enchantment has never really left me. The arrival of the internet in the 1990s blew pure oxygen over the embers of this fascination and I began to get involved in the portrayal of Apollo on this new medium. At the core of this was the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (ALSJ) by Eric Jones, an extraordinary online document that relates in detail mankind’s first period of exploration on another world.

For making NASA's history books available on the web, I received a Special Service Award from NASA in 1997. A year later the first pages of my next project, the Apollo Flight Journal (AFJ), appeared. The AFJ is an annotated transcript of the Apollo flights that follows the lead of the ALSJ.  As I learned more and more about the flights, I was struck at how my admiration and astonishment for these missions never waned. On the contrary, it continued to grow.

I soon realised that the stories I was telling in the journal could form the basis of a book. I have a belief that the essential elements of any technology can be understood by any reasonably intelligent person, provided that the words can be found to explain it. If I could explain something to myself, then it ought to be explainable to anyone. This was the basis of How Apollo Flew to the Moon.

It is my hope that this is the kind of book that the space geeks will tell the newbies about to get them up to speed on the incredible Apollo missions. I certainly wish I had something like it in the 1990s when my interest in Apollo reawoke. It revisits the early history of Apollo and runs through what each flight achieved. The major part of the book then follows a virtual flight, explaining each stage from launch to splashdown. Throughout, it draws upon the experiences and words of the crews to help tell the story of the missions, their equipment and the procedures that had to be strictly followed if success was to be gained. The advantage of this approach is that the personalities of the crews shine though as they describe the problems and the sheer wonder of flying to the Moon and as a result, it humanises the book.

For the book’s cover, I borrowed a style from pulp SF magazines where a large banner (usually a word beginning with ‘A’ (Amazing, Astounding)) would sweep across the top of the page above a drawing of a fabulous spaceship flying above some luridly-coloured world. In the new edition, designer Stewart Ramsay has taken my efforts of the first edition to a new level, all to assure the reader than this is not a dry, technical tome, but rather a collection of tales of fantastic technology allied with human bravery and ingenuity – stories from a time when science fiction dreams were realised in front of our eyes.


  How Apollo Flew to the Moon

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© W. David Woods 2011-2013. Site Design by Kevin J. Woods.