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3-2-1 splashdown! A review of Hornet Plus Three

Hornet Plus Three: The Story of the Apollo 11 Recovery
by Bob Fish
Beagle Bay Books, 2009
Hardcover, 288 pages
ISBN 978-0-9749610-7-1

If you wander into a Borders or Barnes and Noble right now, chances are that you will see a display of books about the Apollo program. Many of these are picture books and many of them rehash a lot of the same information you’ve seen in previous books—simply put, you won’t find much that is original or new.

So go buy this book.

Hornet Plus Three is the most detailed account of the recovery effort for the Apollo 11 mission ever written. Author Bob Fish, who is on the board of directors for the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California, has gathered a tremendous amount of information and a lot of photographs, many never published before, focusing on the recovery effort.

Hornet Plus Three is the most detailed account of the recovery effort for the Apollo 11 mission ever written.

The book includes a discussion of the military planning that went into the recovery, and other subjects such as efforts to limit possible lunar contamination of Earth. Before she set sail, the Hornet was equipped with a mobile quarantine unit. As soon as the Apollo 11 astronauts were recovered onboard the ship, they were placed in this converted Airstream trailer where they stayed until the ship returned to port. Fish also has information on the numerous ships and aircraft involved in the recovery, as well as lists of the personnel who directly participated and also includes interviews with several of them. President Richard Nixon’s visit to the ship is also extensively documented.

The research is extensive, and the book’s photographs are plentiful and unique. For example, one of the photographs shows how the famous “Helo 66” Sikorsky Sea King, used to recover the astronauts, was equipped with a 70mm film camera on its side for filming the astronauts being hoisted aboard. Another photo shows the same helicopter being fumigated for possible lunar microbes after it delivered the astronauts to the ship.

You can order an autographed copy of the book directly from the Hornet Museum Store. So instead of adding another picture book to your collection, or buying yet another book derived from the work of earlier researchers, get something unique.