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Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders who took iconic 'Earthrise' photo dies in plane crash - Washington
Uploaded On:Sunday 9th of June 2024

William Anders, a NASA astronaut who was part of the 1968 Apollo 8 crew who were the first three people to orbit the moon, has died in a plane crash in Washington state, according to his son, Gregory Anders. He was 90 years old.

My “dad passed in an aircraft incident in the San Juan Islands,” Anders told CNN Friday evening. “The family is devastated and grieving the loss of a great pilot,” he added.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release an aircraft went down off the coast of Jones Island.

The dispatch center got an initial report around 11:40 a.m. PT, which said an “older model plane was flying from north to south then went into the water near the north end of Jones Island and sunk,” the sheriff’s office said.

The United States Coast Guard later announced the pilot’s body was recovered by a dive team after an hourslong search that involved multiple agencies and covered 215 nautical miles. The San Juan Islands are located about 90 miles north of Seattle.

William Anders, born on October 17, 1933, in Hong Kong, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1955 and after being commissioned in the US Air Force, he earned his pilot’s wings the following year, according to the US Naval Academy’s website.

Anders served as a fighter pilot in all-weather interception squadrons of the Air Defense Command in California and Iceland, according to NASA and the US Naval Academy.

While at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory in New Mexico, Anders was responsible for managing nuclear power reactor shielding and radiation effects programs, his NASA biography states.