As NASA prepared to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing earlier this year, Scott Phillips, former NASA contractor and wood carver, designed a magnificent guitar commemorating the historic journey of Apollo 11 and the first men walking on the moon surface on July 20, 1969.
The guitar will be permanently exhibited at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Phillips, artist, author and motivational speaker, and his wife, Diane, co-author of their book Remove Before Flight, were in Fayetteville on business recently. He has a selection of his unique artwork on display at the Fayetteville Antique Mall and brought the one-of-a-kind instrument with him for others to enjoy. The couple paused at the Local Café for lunch, then agreed to a brief interview and an impromptu performance on the eclectic instrument.
Currently a docent at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Phillips, known for his hardwood sculptures of space shuttles, took on the project of designing the unique guitar, crafted by C.F. Martin Co. in Nazareth, Pa.
“It’s the Stradivarius of guitars,” said Phillips, referring to C.F. Martin guitars. The guitar is replete with symbolism; an image of the Saturn five is inlaid on the neck with mother of pearl along with the date 7-20-69. The tuning knobs are gold, and buttons commemorating the legacy of the Space Shuttle Program adorn the top of the neck. The instrument’s six strings represent six successful moon landings.
Among the other images on the body of the guitar are ingrained etchings of the surface of the moon and Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the lunar module and the United States Flag. A replica of a plaque left on the moon on the face of the instrument states, “We come in peace for all mankind.”
A forest firefighter before becoming an astronaut, Stuart Roosa took some tree seeds with him on Apollo 14 mission in 1974 – those seeds orbited the moon with him in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the United States in 1976.
The tree that produced the seeds was preserved so that its wood could be used to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, and a portion of that wood, too, was used in the construction of the guitar. It’s made, too, with several exotic woods, including rosewood, sycamore, ebony and mahogany.
Phillips, nicknamed “Shuttleman”, worked for Lockheed Martin as an external tank logistics manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for 33 years. He has been a wood carver since childhood and his love of the space program was inspired by Neil Armstrong.
His passion for woodworking and for the space program merged when, out of high school, he was hired as a mechanical technician to work at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Over the years, he’s sculpted hundreds of hardwood replicas of space shuttles, many of them now in the possession of astronauts or crew members.
A space historian, he also documents information about each shuttle, places a serial number on the sculpture and keeps a copy of the paperwork for future authentication.
The Phillips’ book is available on Amazon, and more of his work may be seen by doing an internet search for Shuttleman Scott Phillips.