Apollo 8 astronaut, who snapped iconic ‘Earthrise’ photo, dies in fiery plane crash caught on video

Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders died in a fiery plane crash over Puget Sound in Washington on Friday. The tragic incident was caught on video. Anders was 90.

At the time of the airplane crash, Anders was piloting his vintage Beechcraft T-34 Mentor – a single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft primarily used for flight training during the 1950s by the United States Air Force and U.S. Navy.

Video taken by Phillip Person shows Anders’ plane suddenly falling from the sky and crashing into the Puget Sound, just 80 feet from the shore of Jones Island.

“I could not believe what I was seeing in front of my eyes,” Person said. “It went into a barrel roll, sort of a loop, it was inverted.”

“It tried to pull up before it hit the water, but it was too low when it started the loop, and it didn’t clear the water,” he said of the plane crash. “Looked like it clipped a wing at first, went down very hard, burst into flames, broke apart, and instantly went under water.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement, “A Beechcraft T-34 Mentor crashed into the water near Roche Harbor, Washington, around 11:40 a.m. local time Friday, June 7. Only the pilot was on board.”

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have launched an investigation into the deadly plane crash. The plane will be recovered from the water and will be examined by the NTSB at an offsite facility, where investigators will access tracking data, air traffic control communications recordings, and the pilot’s flight experience.

You can watch video of the deadly crash here.

Anders’ son, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Greg Anders, confirmed his father’s sudden death and told the Associated Press, “The family is devastated. He was a great pilot and we will miss him terribly.”

NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson said of the famed astronaut, “In 1968, during Apollo 8, Bill Anders offered to humanity among the deepest of gifts an astronaut can give. He traveled to the threshold of the Moon and helped all of us see something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and the purpose of exploration. We will miss him.”

Anders was part of the Apollo 8 team – the first manned mission to orbit the Moon. Anders was the lunar modular pilot, Frank Borman was the commander, and James Lovell was the command modular pilot.

Anders snapped the iconic “Earthrise” photo, which captured the moment our planet rose over the lunar horizon on Dec. 24. 1968.

CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

During the mission’s Christmas Eve broadcast, Anders and the crew read from the book of Genesis.

We are now approaching lunar sunrise. And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. ‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.’

Lovell is the last surviving member of the original Apollo 8 crew.

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Apollo 8’s Christmas Eve 1968 Messagewww.youtube.com

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