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Dover Post
  • ILC Dover to be the subject of major motion picture

  • ILC Dover has had a role in making spacesuits for NASA since 1962 and that relationship continues to this day as the company was just awarded a contract to develop NASA’s next generation of spacesuits.
    The Frederica-based company designed the spacesuits for Project Apollo, the NASA initiative that landed the first men on the moon.
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  • ILC Dover has had a role in making spacesuits for NASA since 1962 and that relationship continues to this day as the company was just awarded a contract to develop NASA’s next generation of spacesuits.
    The Frederica-based company designed the spacesuits for Project Apollo, the NASA initiative that landed the first men on the moon.
    The story of how ILC built the Apollo spacesuit and won the contract that landed their product on the moon became the topic of a book called, “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo” by Nicholas de Monchaux in 2011.
    de Monchaux’s book, and ILC’s story, is now being made into a major motion picture by Warner Brothers. The feature will be produced by Tom McNulty, who previously produced movies like “The Rocker” and “Date Night.”
    “When you think about Apollo you generally think of spacesuits and of Buzz Aldrin on the moon,” said William Ayrey, ILC Dover lab manager and company historian. “What people might not know is that that spacesuit was built right here in Dover, on Pear Street.”
    ILC originally housed its headquarters on the corner of Division Street and U.S. Route 13. The company moved part of its operation to Frederica in the late 1960s and moved the entire company out there in 1975.
     “I heard about the story on NPR. I heard an interview with the author. I was captivated by it,” McNulty said. “What captivated me more than a man walking on moon is getting to tell the story everyone thinks they know from an entirely different perspective. It’s the perspective of the little guy company that made bras and girdles being thrust into the white hot center of the space race.”
    McNulty said de Monchaux’s book served for inspiration and background for the movie but the script will delve deeper and focus on the seven-year-journey that ILC embarked on to create the Apollo spacesuits. A story that Ayrey is excited to have told.
    “My feeling is that the people who are retired from ILC, who worked on Apollo, deserve this tribute and honor,” Ayrey said. “I hope Hollywood does a good job. I want it to be a tribute to those who had a hand in making that suit and contributed to one of country’s greatest achievements.”
    Ayrey and McNulty are seemingly on the same page.
    “In my wildest dreams I hope it is a love letter to the people of Dover and to the men and women or ILC,” McNulty said.
    McNulty plans to honor some ILC employees in a very real way. The movie will feature a handful of ILC employees as characters. Homer Reihm, former ILC president; George Durney, senior development engineer on the Apollo program; Ellie Foraker, a seamstress for ILC; Lenny Shepard, Apollo program manager and director of research and technology; and Roberta Pilkington, lead sewer for the Apollo spacesuit will all be featured on the silver screen. ILC itself, along with Dover, may even make an appearance in the film.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We will hopefully incorporate shots of [Loockerman Street],” McNulty said. “Obviously the movie takes place in the ’60s. The casino and racetrack weren’t there. We’ll just have to shoot around them.”
    If portions of the movie can’t be shot at ILC, replicas of the factory will be built for shooting, McNulty said. Researchers are already working to learn the ins and outs of the ILC factory.
    “A researcher called and talked to me. They’re trying to make it realistic. They wanted to know what buildings and rooms look like back in the ’60s,” Ayrey said. “Tom Mcnulty has been talking with retired employees who used to work here, getting background and trying to put it together. Anything they can get form the ’68- or ’69-timeline would help.”
    Ayrey has asked that anyone with pictures from ILC at that time or past employees or the families of past employees with stories contact him at bayrey@aol.com.
    “Fashioning Apollo” will likely hit theaters by Christmas 2014 if everything goes smoothly, McNulty said.

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