Remembering the Rainbow Rocket Man

Charles “Pete” Conrad (1930-1999), the astronaut who said, “If you can’t be good, be colorful.”

Early 1980 

I sat between two women who had missed the same flight to San Francisco I had missed, and had also rushed to grab seats on this one.

One of them said, “Pete Conrad is on this flight. He was standing in the ticket line right in front of me, and I really wanted to talk to him, but I chickened out.”

Scanning the cabin, the other one asked, “Where?”

“Right now, he’s in that bathroom,” the first answered, pointing ahead, “but his seat is right across the aisle.”

An astronaut who had walked on the moon?! My heart thumped faster at just the thought. “Okay,” I announced, “when he comes out, we’re going to meet him.”

Moments later, he walked down the aisle. All three of us stood up, and I held out my hand. “Mr. Conrad,” I said, “It’s an honor to meet you. Could I ask you something?”

He shook my hand, and looking at me with eyes that were somehow deeper, vaster, fuller than any I’d ever seen, he said, “Sure.”

“What amazed you most about being on the moon?”

He hesitated only a second before answering.

The colors. It would have to be all the colors. Pete Conrad, third man on the moon

People who knew him agree they never saw him like this; he should be smiling.   (Photo credit for the sunglass reflection: Astronaut Alan Bean/NASA)

Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

17 thoughts on “Remembering the Rainbow Rocket Man”

  1. Omg…what a brilliant meeting! It must have been fascinating…I read an interview, I can’t remember who it was with, where they said that walking on the Moon made them realise the total vastness of the Universe…great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had never heard that story! I met a lot of celebrities and even an astronaut during my years as a flight attendant. Unfortunately, the astronaut I met wasn’t as friendly…but yours is a memory to hold.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kim. I do cherish this one. I had written it down a long time ago, and happened across it today so I thought I’d share it. Funny, reading it, it all came back crystal clear. That was the only time I ever missed a flight. (I was across the aisle from O.J. and Nicole once, but I didn’t try to meet him. :/)


    1. It was indeed a real life experience, Shirley. While I was running through the airport trying to find a timely flight to replace the one I missed, I remember being surprised that I wasn’t feeling frustrated, just in a hurry. I’m not much of a chicken, though. I figure if something you really want is within reach, put out your hand. Stretch if you have to. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha! Thanks, Tre. I’ve learned never to throw away chances like this that get dumped in your lap, especially when they give you the opportunity to help someone who did. Why else would we all have been sitting where we were on a plane we never meant to take? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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