Author Topic: Guenter Wendt: “der Führer of der Launch Pad” the Pad Rats crew. NASA History  (Read 1029 times)

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Guenter Wendt: “der Führer of der Launch Pad” the Pad Rats crew. NASA History

Dan Beaumont Space Museum
Published on Aug 23, 2017

From (Brevard County Historical Commission)   THE LAUNCH PAD LEADER:  You are watching an interview of Guenter Wendt, who was born in Berlin, Germany in 1923 and moved to Brevard County to work on NASA’s space programs. Guenter’s father immigrated to the United States when Guenter was just a child, but Guenter remained in Germany with his mother. He served in the German Air Force during World War II, where he developed skills as an aeronautical and mechanical engineer. After the war, in order to remain working in engineering, Guenter moved to be with his father in the United States. Guenter discusses his work history in the U.S. with a focus on his employment with the defense contractor McDonnell Aircraft, which led to his work on NASA’s Mercury Program and subsequent Gemini and Apollo Programs.

-Much of this interview focuses on Guenter’s personal recollections of what it was like working at NASA alongside fellow hard working crew members and Astronauts, including the original Mercury Seven. Guenter recounts humorous personal stories, such as playing practical jokes (known as “gotcha’s”) and being affectionately nicknamed “der Führer of der Launch Pad” by John Glenn for his strictness on the job. Details about popular social activities of the time, like visiting the local Starlite Motel’s lounge, launch parties, and driving on the beach, are also featured in this interview.

-However, Guenter’s interview demonstrates that while the Space Program was glamorous from the outside, it was also serious business. This interview reveals emotional moments, such as being approached by John Glenn’s wife, concerned about her husband’s safe return. He discloses that 80 hour work weeks were not unusual, and discusses the pressures felt by Astronauts and crew members alike. He also provides insight into the “Race for Space” and its political nature as he saw it.

-The end segment of this interview features Guenter sharing personal memorabilia and narrating some NASA clips filmed at Cape Canaveral.

-Guenter Wendt passed away at his home in Merritt Island on May 3, 2010, at the age of 86.

Tony De La Rosa