Frank Borman, Astronaut And Avid GA Pilot, Dies At 95


Astronaut Frank Borman, commander of the first manned flight to circle the moon, died Tuesday (Nov. 7) in Billings, Montana. He was 95. Borman spent almost 20 full days in space over two missions and later served as the leader of Eastern Airlines. He was a committed general aviation pilot, very active in the effort to promote safety among the Mitsubishi MU-2 pilot community.

Borman was the oldest living astronaut, a distinction now passed to Jim Lovell, who is also 95, but 11 days younger. In a statement, current NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, “Frank began his career as an officer with the U.S. Air Force. His love of flying proved essential through his positions as a fighter pilot, operational pilot, test pilot, and assistant professor. His exceptional experience and expertise led him to be chosen by NASA to join the second group of astronauts.

“In addition to his critical role as commander of the Apollo 8 mission, he is a veteran of Gemini 7, spending 14 days in low-Earth orbit and conducting the first rendezvous in space, coming within a few feet of the Gemini 6 spacecraft.”

Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association, said, “We at EAA came to know him for more than 30 years as an enthusiastic aviator and supporter of programs that would build on the legacy of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. We were honored in 2018 when Frank donated his personal archives to EAA, which are now on display at the EAA Aviation Museum, and always welcomed him back to Oshkosh when he could join us here. We express our condolences to Frank’s family and many friends, and say to Frank, Godspeed, and thank you.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. A loss of a legend…..
    As a teenager here in the U.K. and a bit of a science nerd I was glued to the (rather grainy) images of the Apollo missions. What an achievement given the level of technology available at the time.

    He is credited with saying the following –
    ‘A superior pilot is one who uses his (their) superior judgement to avoid situations requiring the use of his (their) superior skill’

    Amen to that…..

  2. A true American icon. The Apollo 8 mission Frank Borman commanded was the first manned space flight to leave earth orbit and go to the moon, it was and remains a incredible achievement and VERY big deal which hasn’t been repeated since the Apollo program.

    Christmas Eve of 1968 as he and his crew orbited that hostile and lifeless rock while looking back 240,000 miles to Earth they took turns reading from the Book of Genesis, the live broadcast of that touch millions to their very core. It was the most watched live broadcast at the time and a profound and historic moment in human history, if you haven’t seen it you should.

    Tailwinds and a star to steer by Commander Borman, you served your country and humanity well.

  3. Just an incredible career. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s glued to anything NASA was doing. The number one rule in life is leave everything better than you found it……and he surely did.

  4. I met him at a Montana fly in, and you should have seen the pre flight he did before flying off in his warbird (of some type, T-6 maybe…). Another pilot, like Yeager and Hoover, who lived well into their 90’s, after leading flying lives a bit more adventurous than most of us, there’s some kind of life lesson there!

  5. Sorry to hear that but he was a terrible business man who destroyed Eastern Airlines. He was never a friend to the thousands of pilots he put out on the street.