Manuel Antonio Sarco and survival school in the tropics
Stories from the United States' relationship with the Panama Canal, in celebration of its centenary
Embera Chief Manuel Antonio Sarco was an instructor in the Tropical Survival school in Panama. All U.S. astronauts had to graduate from this school in order to qualify to fly to the moon because, when they reentered the Earth’s atmosphere, it was hard to predict exactly where the Apollo pods would land. The natural gravitational pull and likelihood, given the Earth’s geography, would put them in a tropical environment.
NASA wanted to prepare the astronauts in case they needed survive on their own for a few days until they were picked up. Chief Sarco taught many American astronauts who visited the Canal Zone how to live alone in this environment. The Tropical Survival School closed in 1975 and, Chief Sarco remained as employee of the Canal for 20 years. The picture here is a thank you gift autographed to him from one of the astronauts.