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The day I met Neil Armstrong offshore

ROCKET to rig: Alan Roy with the picture that was snapped as he laughed with Neil Armstrong and the notebook that the astronaut signed
ROCKET to rig: Alan Roy with the picture that was snapped as he laughed with Neil Armstrong and the notebook that the astronaut signed

It was just another day offshore for Fraserburgh man Alan Roy until he plucked up the courage to have a laugh with Neil Armstrong.

The US astronaut’s presence on an oil rig off the coast of Ireland in the 1970s had rendered most of the crew mute.

But as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar mission approaches, Mr Roy has spoken of his meeting with one of the world’s most famous men.

The craft carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off for space on July 16 1969.

Four days later, 50 years tomorrow, Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.

In the mid-1970s, however, he was touching down on the Aladdin rig as it sat off the coast of the city of Cork.

Mr Roy was working as a derrickman for Jebsen Drilling when they met,  sometime between 1975 and 1978.

Alan Roy gets Neil Armstrong’s autograph on an oil rig

Armstrong was described by his family as “a reluctant American hero” but the presence of the man from space left the hardy men on the rig awestruck.

Mr Roy said: “Neil Armstrong was on the board of Marathon Oil at the time and came on to the rig with some of the other Marathon men.

“We were drilling a hole down off the coast, south of the city of Cork, if I remember right.

“The crew were scared about asking for his autograph, but when we saw he was on his way to the helicopter to leave, I finally plucked up the courage and asked for one.

“He did it no problem. It was great to meet him.”

Mr Roy handed over his tally book, the note book he was using offshore at the time, for the astronaut to sign.

While watching Armstrong scrawl his name across the page, Mr Roy cracked a joke, with the moment captured on camera as they shared a laugh.

The 64-year-old said: “I asked him, because he was wearing a hard hat at the time, whether I could borrow his hat. He couldn’t understand my accent so he asked one of the men with him what I had said and they explained.

“He said ‘No, I think I need it just now’ and I laughed and said ‘no, I mean your big round one’.

“We were all laughing after that. While we were laughing that’s when the picture of us was taken.

“I remember watching the moon landing on an old black and white TV, which was just incredible, so meeting him was great.”

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