My 2017: some things can only happen in the USA

I am not sure if I have previously talked about my favourite movies, but if I have not, then this is a good moment and way to talk about it.

Perhaps one of my favourite movies became my favourite as a result of growing up with two boys, and naturally, living under the same roof you end up sharing some hobbies or interests, or getting your siblings involved into yours as a way to maintain a bond. I remember that I used to see Apollo 13 with them. It is only when I reached my adulthood that my interest in the film grew stronger and I discovered that the movie contained several messages. It speaks about the life-style of the people living in the US during the 60s, the world of aeronautics and aerospace (aka. NASA), it speaks about the personal experiences of the protagonists of the movie, but most importantly it narrates the situations lived during the mission of the Apollo 13. It is a Hollywood movie based in the real events of that particular NASA mission.

My stay in the US has been brief but very intense. I have checked several boxes of the “bucket list”, some of them can be considered the “must-do”. Some others, are completely random and make this kind of experiences unique. I can say that I had my random and unique one, and it has something to do with the Apollo 13 and NASA. Random because it happened during a weekend trip to a place that is not necessarily connected to NASA, and unique because of the person I met.

I was visiting the House-Museum of Thomas Jefferson – located in the state of Virginia- with some friends. One of the main activities anyone can do during this visit, is to go inside the house, walk around the fields, listen to the general explanations and if you are still curious ask the volunteers about any particular thing. So, I decided to ask one of the volunteers standing next to me. An old man, probably in his late-70s. I formulated a very random question about one thing I saw in the room. He started giving an explanation about it and when he finished, he asked me back. From then on, we engaged into a very interesting conversation about each other. This conversation led to discover that we had something in common, or perhaps two things in common. One is that aeronautics or aerospace is something we are connected to: he is a retired aeronautical engineer, and my brothers also are (not retired, but very active engineers). The second is that we both like the movie Apollo 13.  When we came to this point in the conversation, he couldn´t help himself from sharing that he worked in the NASA Apollo program, and that he was also involved in the mission for the Apollo 13. This is the moment when one realizes that the world is really small and that certain things can only happen in the US. Where else would I meet a person related to the Apollo 13? Of course, it had to be only in the US. I have been connected to the Apollo 13 crew not even in within the famous “6 degrees of separation”, just by 1 person.  Another box ticked from my bucket list. One that I did not expected.

I can´t hide that this moment has been one of the coolest that has happened in my 2017. Unfortunately, I don´t remember the name of this anonymous man, but I will always remember what he said and the sensations I felt once I discovered who he was and what he did.

Probably, the fact that I like the most about the movie, is a message that strongly speaks to me is: team work and “failure/success”. One of the catchy sentences of the movie (which apparently was just made for it): “Failure is not an option”. This sentence serves as a way to explain some aspects of team work and failure/success.  It underlines the importance of team work in order to reach success or to overcome a failure. Particularly related to the NASA mission, how to make of a failure a great success. Normally and in a vast number of Hollywood movies they talk about reaching success, about being the best and not always about what happens when something fails and it does not succeed. For me, Apollo 13 is all about the second thing. It is based in real events, therefore, speaks about “reality”.

I am not an aerospace engineer however, having two siblings who are and work in this industry, accidentally influences your interests, in this case for aerospace. I guess that is why Apollo 13 became one my favourite movies, and after meeting that anonymous man, it has certainly made a difference.

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