Anything to declare?
by Barbara Blum
If you have ever traveled overseas, then returned to the U.S., you likely filled out a “customs declaration” form on the airplane:
“Are you bringing with you: plants, food, animals, soil, disease agents, cell cultures or snails? Declare all articles that you have acquired and are bringing into the United States.”
Who would have guessed the regulations would have been enforced so rigorously in 1969 when three men returned to the U.S. from a rather long business trip – to the moon and back. After more than 477,000 miles roundtrip, they had to file and sign a “General Declaration” for the items they acquired on the trip — specifically, “moon rock and moon dust samples.”
The flight number was typed in as “Apollo 11,” and the departure point was listed as “Moon” with arrival at Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
The Declaration of Health section, asks travelers to list: "Any other condition on board which may lead to the spread of disease.” The answer was “To be determined.”
(First-man-on-the-moon and former UC engineering professor Neil Armstrong died Aug. 25, 2012, at 82 years of age.)
Yes, the form really does ask if a person is bringing in snails.
Thanks to UC alumnus Luama Mays, JD ’66, for sharing a copy of the declaration with UC Magazine. Mays was a pilot who befriended Armstrong while the former astronaut was teaching at UC and Mays was running an aviation company. Initially Armstrong called him, without even identifying himself, asking for a ride on Mays old "bubble-style" helicopter left over from the Korean War. It was exactly what Armstrong had trained on in preparation for operating the lunar module. (See entire story.)
- Feature story with 25 photos
- Wrecks and near wrecks — Photos and story about Armstrong's fiery close calls in the air and mishaps on campus.
- Memories of goose bumps, getting thrown out of class, more — UC faculty and alumni talk about the Neil Armstrong they knew.
- Armstrong's private life — Read thoughts on Armstrong from someone who worked closely with him at UC.
- Armstrong's poem for children — Armstrong's poem tells children where he went on his summer vacation — to the moon.
- UC Commencement address — Read Armstrong's address from 1982.
- Paper airplanes — Photos and story about professor Armstrong making paper airplanes with the students.