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Astronaut who clicked iconic ‘Earthrise’ photo died while doing Flyby near friend’s place


William Anders, the Apollo 8 astronaut renowned for capturing the iconic “Earthrise” photograph, passed away last month in a plane crash off the coast of Washington state. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on Tuesday, revealing that Anders was performing a flyby near a friend’s house on Orcas Island when the tragic accident occurred.

Ex-astronaut who died in Washington plane crash was doing a flyby near a friend's home, NTSB says

This photo shows the Earth behind the surface of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission, Dec. 24, 1968. (AP)

According to the NTSB report, Anders had informed his friend via text message about his intention to conduct a flyby near her residence on the western shore of Orcas Island. The friend stated that such flybys were not uncommon for Anders, who typically performed two passes and occasionally rocked the airplane’s wings but “he never performed any kind of aerobatic maneuvers.”
On June 7, around 11:37 am, the friend heard the familiar sound of Anders’ aircraft approaching. She observed the vintage Beech A45 flying northward along the shoreline in front of her house. However, as the plane momentarily disappeared behind trees and reemerged, it was heading south over the water. The friend witnessed the left wing drop, initially assuming it was part of Anders’ routine, but the wing continued to descend as the plane rapidly lost altitude.
Simultaneously, another witness located north of Anders’ friend’s home captured video footage of the aircraft using their phone. The video shows the plane plummeting toward the water in a nearly vertical dive, with its right wingtip striking the surface. These two individuals were the only witnesses to come forward, as reported by the NTSB.
The plane sank near the northern end of Jones Island, situated off the western shore of Orcas Island. The body of 90-year-old Anders was recovered that same afternoon. The majority of the wreckage was retrieved in the following week and has been stored for further examination, according to the agency.

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