Apollo 13 astronaut tells Biloxi astronomy students to aim high - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Apollo 13 astronaut tells Biloxi astronomy students to aim high

Fred Haise, 2010 and 1969 Fred Haise, 2010 and 1969

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – "Here is a shot of myself drifting down through that tunnel," Fred Haise said, as he displayed black and white photos of his days as an astronaut.

About 120 Astronomy students at Biloxi High School have already seen the movie "Apollo 13."   On Thursday, they got a unique chance to hear from the lunar pilot actor Bill Paxton portrayed in that movie, Biloxi's own Fred Haise.

"That's where the explosion happened, and it blew one quarter of the spacecraft off," Haise told the students. 

Haise talked about those harrowing days and how the crew made it back to Earth alive. 

"We got rained on a little bit, because water had built up during those four days when it got so chilly," he said.

Haise gave his personal perspective on the 1970 mission, verses the Hollywood version of it. 

"What they had was some off color language that gave it a PG-13.  That was not ours. In fact, [James] Lovell said 'hell' once," said Haise.

Haise said he went through many years of intense training, education, and experience.  He knew every mission came with risks.

"You prepare ahead of time, as if you're not going to get back," he said.

Haise talked about growing up in Biloxi, how he landed in the space program, and his views on leading a happy life.

"The best of all is to have a job that on some days, you sort of feel guilty because you're getting paid to do what you're doing," said Haise.  "Many, many days I've been flying and saying, 'Man, how lucky am I to be here doing this!'"

Many students were surprised to learn that the famous astronaut was so down-to-earth.

"To meet an old astronaut from Apollo 13 is like a dream come true," said Spyros Settos, a German exchange student. "I can't wait to tell my friends in Germany, 'Hey, I met Mr. Haise.'"

"He's gotten me more interested in astronomy. I've always had it on the back burner," said senior Adriane Hatch.

"The life I've enjoyed and what I've managed to do beyond high school, hopefully, will encourage them indirectly to use their skills and their talents to make the best of what they've been blessed with," said Haise.

Over the years, Haise has also spoken to students in Jackson County and Stone County.  And back in December, he gave Gorenflo Elementary School in Biloxi a rare gift -- a piece of the moon.

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