Man saved photos from ‘69 moon mission

TUPELO – Before video cassette recorders and digital video recorders, capturing images off a TV screen was tricky.
Bill Ledbetter’s job was made easier during the moon landing 40 years ago by the quality of his equipment.
“I had the best camera Pentax made,” Ledbetter said. “I’d bought it in Vietnam.”
He took 19 photos of the TV screen on the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first to step on the moon’s surface.
“There wasn’t much light coming off the television,” Ledbetter said. “I knew I couldn’t use the flash because of the reflection. I got up close to the TV and took the pictures.”
Ledbetter and his wife, Carol, were living in St. Paul, Minn., at the time.
“We had a little TV with rabbit ears,” he said. “Of cours, they all had rabbit ears.”
“I think the TV cost $5 used,” Carol Ledbetter said. “It was better than nothing.”
They watched the landing with friends, who had a big console set.
“Everyone knew it was happening at the time,” Carol Ledbetter said. “We were on the moon. That was unheard of before.”
Ledbetter, who moved to Tupelo in 2000 to care for his mother, said he’d forgotten about his photos until he read other people’s memories about the moon landing in the Daily Journal.
“I was surprised in a way at how good the photographs were,” he said. “In another way, I wasn’t. It was a pretty good camera.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Click video to hear audio