The crew of Apollo 9 (left) at Cape Kennedy prior to launch: (from left to right) Commander James G. McDivitt; Command Module Pilot David R. Scott; and Lunar Module Pilot Russell L. Schweickart. Apollo 9 marked the first and only test flight of the lunar module Spider (right) in low Earth orbit. The success of the mission paved the way for Apollo 10's lunar orbit test flight.

Apollo 9: Flown National Aeronautic Association Flight Certification $1 Bill

Launch Date: March 3, 1969 | Splashdown Date: March 13, 1969

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About the Provenance

This bill, along with two others in consecutive serial number, originally belonged to Doctor Robert B. Dillaway, the National Aeronautical Association witnessing official assigned to the Apollo 9 flight for certifying international space flight records. It was offered up for sale via auction, where it was acquired. One of the other bills from the three, which is just one serial number off from the one in the Jefferson Space Museum collection, is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum as part of its collection of Apollo mission flown NAA flight record certification bills.

About the Bill

During the Apollo manned flight missions, dollar bills would be provided to the astronauts by a witnessing NAA official. The bills, usually three in number (but sometimes including four or fiver per flight), and with consecutive serial numbers, would be autographed by the crew and then placed aboard the spacecraft and flown. These bills would then be recovered by the witnessing official from the spacecraft after splash down and served as the basis for certifying the identities of the crew onboard each flight, and also as proof of flight for that mission's NAA flight record certification.

The tradition has its roots in pre-onboard television days, when there was no guarantee that the person who got into a capsule and launched in Florida, was the same person who splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Signing a bill with a unique and distinct serial number solved this problem. Long after onboard television rendered this tradition moot, the ceremonial process continued through to ASTP, when the dollar bills were replaced with paper certificates.

Post the 1972 Apollo 15 cover scandal, and the commercialization issues with Apollo flown memorabilia, NASA sought to inventory all the bills with the help of the NAA. After lengthy negotiations, the witnessing officials donated a full set of bills -- which were their own personal property -- to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in 1976.

The preceding bill, with serial number L57117235E, was donated to the Smithsonian. This bill, with serial number L57117234E, was retained in the Dillaway family space collection until offered for sale via public auction. Subsequent to acquiring the bill, I had the opportunity to reunite Commander Jim McDivitt with the bill, who inspected it and confirmed it and the crew's signatures. He signed a history and flight certification sheet, and graciously posed with the bill -- thus making this one of the very few (if not the only) astronaut certified NAA flown bills in private hands.

Click on the images below for larger versions....

The detailed astronaut signed fact sheet and flight certification letter discussing the bills history and flight status.

Jim McDivitt signing the fact sheet after closely inspecting the bill, the supporting documentation from the NAA & The Smithsonian, as well as discussing the tradition of the NAA bills.

Jim McDivitt gladly poses with the Apollo 9 flown NAA flight certification bill in Pasadena, California, after being reunited after 45 years.

About Dr. Robert B. Dillaway

Dr. Robert Dillaway was a highly accomplished executive with North American Rockwell Corporation, including the Rocketdyne Division, was an official with the Army Material Command, as well as a high ranking official with the Department of the Navy in Washington, D.C.

In addition to being a member of the International Federation of Aeronautics ("IFA"), of which the National Aeronautics Association ("NAA") is the US national affiliated association, Dr. Dillaway also served as a US delegate to the IFA World Congress and was a drafter of the first world record rules for manned space flight. He also held offices in the NAA, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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Apollo 9: "Three to get ready' -- the official NASA documentary film of the Apollo 9 mission.