Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. In the 36 years that followed, Neil gave very few interviews and lived an extremely private life. Famous writers such as Stephen Ambrose and James Mitchner had vied for the privilege of writing Neil Armstrong’s biography but the task fell to former Waynedale resident Jim Hansen.
Hansen grew up in Waynedale, just down the street from The Waynedale News. His old house is located between Wells Accounting and H&R Block and now houses The Hair Company Beauty Salon. Hansen has an older brother Larry who is now retired and an older sister Carol.
While living in Waynedale in the sixties, Hansen went to Waynedale Elementary, Kekionga, Elmhurst, and IPFW.
Hansen said, “The public and the news media had projected their own profiles of what they thought Neil was really like. It was my job to unpeel the layers of those false projections and explain the man beneath the myth…to define the real Neil Armstrong.”
Armstrong agreed to donate personal papers dating from the start of his flight career to his alma mater, Purdue University.
Hansen, now a history professor at Auburn University, is also donating to Purdue his interviews with other astronauts, test pilots and space program leaders.
Armstrong’s papers and Hansen’s interviews will serve as the starting point for Purdue Libraries’ effort to build a comprehensive flight collection.
Purdue Librarian Dean James L. Mullins said the papers will be housed in a special collection that also holds the world’s largest collection of papers and artifacts related to aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world.
For researchers, it’s going to be a boon. No one has been able to research these papers or study them until now.