If you imagine astronauts as stone cold, serious American heroes, Pete Conrad will definitely challenge that assumption. The late astronaut, the third person to walk on the moon, was known as the Bart Simpson of NASA. And for good reasons! Conrad was part of some pretty serious programs, from Skylab to the Apollo 12 crew, but he never let the the highbrow nature of his work affect his sense of humor. Pete Conrad stories often involve disgusting pranks, cruel nicknames, and some pretty daring maneuvers.
A sense of humor is often necessary during somber and - sometimes - dangerous work. Due to his carefree nature, astronaut Pete Conrad is remembered fondly by his colleagues. He was able to laugh off disaster and keep people calm in the face of adversity. Reading up on Pete Conrad, and his array of contributions to NASA, will leave you both inspired and amused.
Journalist Oriana Fallaci was convinced NASA scripted astronauts' first words for when they set foot on the moon. To prove her wrong, Pete Conrad made a bet with her. Upon first stepping onto the moon, he would say, “Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me.” This was a nod to Conrad's height - he was only 5'3.
In return, Fallaci said she would pay him $500. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $3,100 today. Several sources claimed that Conrad held up his end of the bargain and said those words upon walking on the moon. Unfortunately, according to Conrad at least, he never received his money.
During the Apollo 12 launch, lightning struck the ship’s fuel-loaded bomb as it accelerated into orbit. According to Conrad’s two fellow astronauts, Conrad did not panic even though every circuit breaker on board the ship tripped. He simply waited until he had confirmation from NASA that the flight could continue and then promptly laughed the incident off. He joked it would be a great story for later.
Pete Conrad was known for his love of fast cars, something that landed him in legal trouble in 1964. He and some friends, including fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong, decided to take a hunting trip at a ranch three hours out of town. They formed a parade with their corvettes and proceeded to speed 100 miles-per-hour down a two lane road. They even had another car – that of a young teenager – randomly join the line up just for fun.
When they pulled over to get some burgers, Conrad expressed some concern that the gang was taking things a little too far. They decided to let Neil Armstrong, known to be the serious and responsible member of the group, take the lead. Everyone was surprised when Armstrong pushed the line of cars to drive even faster. Eventually, they were all pulled over and arrested.
Conrad enjoyed messing with the press almost as much as messing with fellow astronauts. He invented an astronaut, who he called Walter Frisbee, that he brought up during interviews. He frequently talked to reporters about Frisbee and his antics in NASA. While it’s never been proven, there are some rumors Frisbee was occasionally quoted by reporters in actual news article due to false information provided by Conrad.