Pioneering Astronaut William Anders Dies In Plane Crash Off Washington Coast

The world of space exploration mourns the loss of William Anders, the 90-year-old former astronaut who made history as part of the Apollo 8 mission in 1968. Anders died on Friday afternoon when the vintage Air Force T-34 Mentor he was piloting crashed just off the San Juan Islands in Washington state.

Confirmation of Anders’s tragic passing came from his son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, who shared with the Associated Press, “The family is devastated. He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly.”

According to reports, the San Juan County Sheriff’s dispatch center received a call around 11:40 a.m. indicating that an “older model plane was flying from north to south then went into the water near the north end of Jones Island and sunk.” Sheriff Eric Peter informed CNN that the dive team had arrived at the scene and was conducting their search.

Anders will forever be remembered for his role in the Apollo 8 mission, during which he captured the iconic “Earthrise” photo, showcasing the planet shadowed against the vastness of space. He worked alongside fellow crewmates, Air Force veteran Frank F. Borman II and Navy veteran James A. Lovell, Jr., logging more than 6,000 hours of flying time and sending back breathtaking images of the moon and Earth.

Following his retirement from the Air Force Reserves in 1988, Anders went on to serve as the chairman and CEO of General Dynamics Corporation for three years. He is survived by his wife, Valerie, whom he married in 1955, and their six children and 13 grandchildren.

The loss of William Anders is a profound one for the space community and all those who admired his bravery, skill, and dedication to pushing the boundaries of human exploration.

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