Q&A with Flying Fish – Joel English talks Apollo with Megan Flaherty

In light of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, Joel English, Exhibition Manager of the touring exhibition, Apollo: When We Went to the Moon, takes us behind the scenes. Read on to learn more about Joel and the exhibition.

MF: With the 50th anniversary, there’s a lot in the news about Apollo 11 this summer. What is unique about the exhibition?

JE: I think the way the exhibit takes a step back from the climax of Apollo 11 itself and makes a purposeful decision to thoroughly investigate the whole “space race” era and what drove, pushed and influenced all the incredible technological break throughs is really eye opening. It’s also really cool to see how quickly the USSR “came out of the blocks” in the space race. I feel like this is something that is often overlooked and neglected.

MF: What is one thing you learned about the space race through the exhibition that surprised you?

JE: I think it would be similar to what I mentioned above. It was surprising to see just how prolific the USSR were in their advancements and some of the milestones they achieved first and how close behind the US they were at the finale. Growing up I feel like the focus was always on the pinnacle of the space race, which was Apollo 11 landing on the moon, but to see all the small (& massive) steps both sides made during the period is truly remarkable.

MF: There is a depth and diversity of artifacts and objects in this exhibition that set the scene of the era. What is your favorite artifact in the exhibition, and why?

JE: That’s a really REALLY hard question. There are so many pieces that I like and they’re all for completely different reasons. I think the crew of Apollo 11’s hand casts are a highlight. They’re really quirky and very interesting to see up close. I think they’re also a reminder of all the tiny details that the whole team planning the mission had to take into account and get 100% correct to ensure the mission was a success.

MF: What do you enjoy most about your work with Flying Fish?

JE: I love how every exhibit we tour is so different, how every location throws up new challenges and often gives the exhibits a completely different vibe/feel. Also, it is kind of every child’s dream to grow up and spend their days putting together rockets, LEGO towers, a T-Rex or getting up close and personal with a Tarantula etc., so that’s pretty cool. With all that said though, the Flying Fish team is great fun to work and travel with and I really enjoy meeting new people where ever I go.

MF: I know you travel the world for your job – what’s your favorite way to spend your free time?

JE: My family owns a small farm in Victoria Australia, so my wife Tamika and I really enjoy heading back there to help out, spend time with family and friends and just take in the fresh air. I also really enjoy getting outdoors so camping or hiking is always a bit of fun.

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