Gordon never thought he would be a pilot - let alone an astronaut who would be one of just 24 people to fly to the moon.
"We send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Gemini and Apollo astronaut Richard Gordon, a hero from NASA's third class of astronauts", NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement.
It wasn't until he entered Navy flight school that he first touched an airplane. During the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, Gordon circled the moon in the command module Yankee Clipper while Alan Bean and Charles Conrad landed the lunar module Intrepid and walked on the moon's surface.
Gordon served with Fighter Squadron 121 at Miramar Naval Air Station as a flight instructor in the F4H and took part in the introduction of that aircraft to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, said spaceref.com. Gordon was slated to make a moon walk as the commander of Apollo 18, but that mission was canceled due to budgetary cuts. Gordon was also the pilot for the Gemini 11 mission in 1966, performing two spacewalks.
NASA made it to the moon by the end of the 1960s because it overcame and learned from obstacles like this one.
"From 240,000 miles away, it's very beautiful ... a very delicate planet sitting out there in the blackest - it's the blackest black you'll ever see", he said. And it's been described like a Christmas tree ornament hanging out there.
"How are you doing?" asked Conrad. It's - philosophically you could emote about it, I'm sure, for quite some time.
After he left the space agency, he became a vice president of the New Orleans Saints football team and later worked for several oil and gas companies. He has two stepchildren, Traci and Christopher, from his wife, Linda, who died September 2017.