The Greatest Astronaut

Pete Clicks His Heels

Painting Completed 2003
48 x 34 inches, Acrylic on Aircraft Plywood

I was a NASA astronaut from 1963 to 1981. During these 18 exciting and challenging years I had the unparalleled good fortune to work with and closely observe many of the astronauts of that historic time. I got to watch and learn from the best and the brightest in our profession in a variety of demanding situations.

Pete was "a natural". He could fly airplanes and spaceships better than most. He could tackle difficult engineering problems and solve them better than most. He could tell stories at any gathering better than most. Pete particularly shined when we encountered new and complex problems as a result of engineering analysis, testing, or from a previous space flight. Pete's initial observations and suggestions would later prove to be awfully close to the mark.

Pete believed first in doing our job and second having fun along the way. He was a happy human being and that is why I painted him jumping up off the Moon and clicking his heels together. He would perform this felicitous maneuver from time to time as we headed for a particularly difficult or demanding simulation or test.

I have also painted Pete in red, white, and blue because he exemplified and demonstrated all the qualities we must strive to strengthen to be good Americans.

Over the years after Apollo, I've had a number of astronauts come up to me and say how much they wished they could have been on Pete's crew. They would have been the better for it. I know Dick and I were.

Pete Conrad was the best man I ever knew. He treated me like a brother and I loved him like a brother. As the centuries unfold, the Pete Conrads of the future will return to the Moon, will walk on Mars, and explore all the other worldly places where we humans dream and dare to go. The world was a better place because Charles 'Pete" Conrad walked among us.