For me, the Apollo missions had an important influence on my life. I remember, age 13, staying-up all night to watch the landing. I was very much into the whole space 'thing' from Gemini on. For Apollo 11 I had a special moon mission pack which I studied religiously and included all the flight details and even some checklists and sadly enough, I can still recall some of the engine start sequences for the command module: "Inject prevalves on...." etc. At 53, I wish my memory was good enough to completely memorise the full sequences on the DA42 I will be using for my instrument flight test at Cranfield in the next two weeks. I have to confess that I've now explored the limits of my own abilities. Most commercial pilots take the IR exam in their early twenties and the ageing 1960's processor, which is now my brain, is struggling under the workload.
For example and 'under the hood' with critical instruments turned off, a 120 degree compass turn should take forty seconds with the stopwatch going; " 120/3.. easy no? But under stress it might as well be "1211122223/3"
We all notice a gradual physical decline as we get older but the mental side is far more insidious and at times it's disheartening to watch oneself making mistakes as the brain becomes so preoccupied with processing information, that it has no spare capacity and can't accept any more inputs. Tasks are either dropped or done in the wrong sequence; what's called an action slip.
Thinking back another thirty years and thanks to the internet I've a reunion this month in London with the friends from both sides of the Atlantic, that I went to university with in the States. As one put it in an email to me yesterday, "Biggles old mate, I'm sure it will be a mixture of beers and tears."