Frank Borman


Frank Frederick Borman, II (born March 14, 1928) is a retired NASA astronaut, best remembered as the Commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the Moon, making him, along with fellow crew mates Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, the first of only 24 men to do so. He was also the chief executive officer (CEO) of Eastern Air Lines from 1975 to 1986. Frank Borman is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. In the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, Borman was played by David Andrews.

Early career

Borman was born in Gary, Indiana. Because he suffered from numerous sinus problems in the cold and damp weather, his father packed up the family and moved to the better climate of Tucson, Arizona, which Borman considers his home town. He started to fly at the age of 15. He is a graduate of the Tucson High School. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1950 where he served as an Army Football Manager, and along with part of his graduating class, he entered the United States Air Force (USAF) and became a fighter pilot. He received his Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1957. Later, Borman was selected for the USAF test pilot school and became a test pilot. He was selected for the second NASA astronaut group in 1962.


Borman flew two flights while at NASA. He is one of just five astronauts to fly a first mission as a Commander (the others being James McDivitt, Gerald Carr, Neil Armstrong,and Joe Engle). He commanded Gemini 7 in 1965 with astronaut Jim Lovell. This was the long-endurance flight of the Gemini program, staying in orbit for fourteen days. The mission also featured the first space rendezvous, with Gemini 6A. Gemini 7 was the target vehicle while Gemini 6A actively pursued. Upon achieving rendezvous, they took turns flying around each other taking both still pictures and movies. The two crafts came within one foot of each other. Borman's second flight was as commander of the Apollo 8 mission in December 1968. He flew with James Lovell again, and also with Bill Anders. The mission was originally planned as a Saturn V-powered "Large Earth Orbit" mission to test tracking and communication, but this was changed into the first lunar orbit mission because the Lunar Module planned for the mission would not be ready for the December liftoff. Apollo 8 went into lunar orbit and made ten orbits of the Moon in December 1968. Apollo 8 is the only manned mission to fly to the moon without a Lunar Module. This was a springboard in NASA's moon landing on July 20 1969 with Apollo 11. Borman was the only astronaut on the AS-204 Review Board which investigated the Apollo 1 fire, which killed Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee. In April 1967, while still serving on the committee, Borman was one of 5 astronauts who testified before a Senate committee investigating the Apollo 1 fire. His testimony helped convince Congress that Apollo would be safe to fly again.

Eastern Air Lines

Borman retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1970, becoming special advisor to Eastern Air Lines. He rose in the ranks of Eastern, becoming CEO in December 1975. The airline business underwent many changes in the late 1970s, and despite a promising start, Eastern ultimately did not do well under Borman. Borman sold Eastern to Frank Lorenzo and Texas Air after many contentious battles with labor unions, particularly the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Borman retired from Eastern in 1986. A strike by the IAM in 1989 eventually forced Eastern into bankruptcy and finally liquidation.


Borman returned to Tucson, Arizona, to reside, and as of 2006 has been living in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he enjoys rebuilding and flying airplanes from World War II and the Korean era. His current favorite airplane is a dual-control TF-51 Mustang fighter named Su Su II. Today, he is a member of the Society of Antique Modelers (SAM). Borman also gave the Commencement Address to the graduating class of 2008 at the University of Arizona.



  • Countdown: An Autobiography of Frank Borman, ISBN 0-688-07929-6

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