Apollo 13 Re-entry through ARIA 4

ARIA 4 (Tail number 329) had the distinction of being the first to reacquire Apollo 13 after the longer-than-expected ionisation blackout.

As the seconds ticked away, it was unclear that the spacecraft had survived re-entry. This was an extremely tense time.

On this previously unreleased audio, the ARIA 4 crew can be heard searching for Apollo 13 and waiting for a signal.

Captain David Dunn served as the Mission Co-ordinator onboard ARIA 4.

He has shared his recording of the communications as ARIA 4 waited for Apollo 13 to emerge from blackout.

Grateful thanks go to Capt. Dunn for the audio, photos, and for his story – see this page for the story.


Audio assembly, noise-reduction and processing by Colin Mackellar.
There was heavy sidetone on the original recording, and this has been removed.

There are two audio files below – the original from David Dunn (with noise reduction),
and a mix file to give the ARIA 4 audio context.

ARIA 4 audio ARIA 4 complete recording – 16.8MB mp3 runs for 69 minutes.

The Command Module Re-enters the atmosphere, is acquired by ARIA, descends on chutes, and the Recovery forces fly the crew to the USS Iwo Jima.

ARIA 4 not only acquired the spacecraft, but also served as relay for the Recovery forces.

Captain Dunn writes:

“All the noise you hear results from the fact that, as Mission Co-ordinator, I had to monitor a wide range of channels all at the same time – the P-band VHF, the USB voice channel, the Duplex HF channel, the simplex coordination circuit, the TACSAT satellite circuit and the aircraft-wide intercom – all at the same time.”


Some time markers on the recording:

16:40 Splashdown.

18:43 ARIA 2 & 3 released, ARIA 4 maintain coverage.

21:40 Cape advises ARIA 4’s relay is being used by CBS TV network.

David Dunn: “ARIA 4 relayed the communications from the splashdown location and the recovery forces.”

33:32 - approx. 20 second break in recording.

52:35 Iwo Jima Tower calls the recovery helicopters.

54:07 Iwo Jima Tower asks Recovery to pass to Captain Lovell that there will be a brief ceremony on the flight deck.

60:25 ARIA Control calls to release ARIA 4 and say they have done ‘an outstanding job’.

62:28 MC David Dunn congratulates the crew.

65:00 Quick look (?) report for ARIA Control.

68:20 Calls Nav requesting ETA Pago Pago, ETD Pago Pago and ETA Hickham AFB (Hawaii).

audio ARIA 4 mix file – 6.7MB stereo mp3 file runs for 14 minutes.

This clip is an attempt to put the ARIA 4 audio in context as the Command Module nears re-entry, arrives at Entry Interface, exits blackout, and descends on chutes. It was created by synchronising several sources –

A portion of the ARIA 4 onboard audio, courtesy of David Dunn, is on the left channel.

On the right channel, in order of appearance, are –

1. A portion of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as it is now) radio coverage as Peter Pockley and Bernard Scrivener describe the groundtrack (with thanks to the ABC);

2. NASA Public Affairs commentary;

3. NASA audio file of the Flight Director’s loop. White Team FD Gene Kranz is heard asking if there has been any ARIA acquistion.

The audio levels have been adjusted to make it easier to understand voice at various sections on the recording.


Other photos in the ARIA section.