October 31, 2014
My family has heard of Armstrong, Aldrin, Gagarin, Glenn and — because we’re Canadian — Hadfield, but I once won an astronaut-naming competition at a family event because I’m one of the few fans of MICHAEL COLLINS (born 1930), the “third” astronaut of 1969’s epic Apollo 11 moon landing. While Armstrong and Aldrin cemented their names in the history books by becoming the first humans to walk on the moon, Collins orbited in the command module. His watchful presence made one of the 20th century’s defining moments possible; it also temporarily made Collins what some wags have dubbed “the loneliest man in history” — the remotest, alone-est human being anywhere, of all time up to that moment. For 48 minutes per rotation, Collins was out of radio contact with the Earth and his colleagues on the moon — but he wasn’t lonely! Instead, he’s talked of his “awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation.” Collins is the ultimate anti-celeb, a hero of the lonely, and a patron saint of designated drivers. What a hero.
ADVENTURERS as HILO HEROES: Katia Krafft | Freya Stark | Louise Arner Boyd | Mary Kingsley | Bruce Chatwin | Hester Lucy Stanhope | Annie Smith Peck | Richard Francis Burton | Isabella Lucy Bird | Calamity Jane | Ernest Shackleton | Osa Helen Johnson | Redmond O’Hanlon | Gertrude Bell | George Mallory | Neta Snook | Jane Digby | Patty Wagstaff | Wilfred Thesiger | Joe Carstairs | Florence “Pancho” Barnes | Erskine Childers | Jacques-Yves Cousteau | Michael Collins | Thor Heyerdahl | Jean-Paul Clébert | Tristan Jones | Neil Armstrong
READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).