I am a space program booster from way back. I remember standing outside on the front porch at night as a kid to watch Telstar pass by in the night sky and my father dismissing Alan Shepherd's sub-orbital flight as 'just a shot down the missile range' compared to the accomplishments of the Soviets. As a Pittsburgh Press delivery boy I saw my first news of the fire in Apollo one as I was delivering the papers on my route. I recorded every Apollo manned launch with my battery operated reel to reel tape recorder, mic propped up in front of the TV as Walter Cronkite narrated each journey for us. My favorite TV shows were space themed: Man into Space; Rocky Jones; Lost in Space; Star Trek. I remember the first space shuttle launch and when I heard that the Challenger and later Columbia were lost.
When I heard that the Endeavour was coming to L.A. by plane and would do some victory laps over the city I was excited as if I was 10 again and waiting for my birthday. My place of employment is fairly near downtown, close to Griffith observatory and in the potential flight path to JPL labs in Pasadena. I hoped and hoped that we'd see the shuttle.
The rooftop parking lot gave a great vantage point for shuttle spotting. Since I was on my morning break there was not worries about doing something I shouldn't have been doing. The carrier 747 and two T38 escorts made three passes by us: one fairly far away, the second right overhead but high and the third (when I had gone back to work but heard the approaching engines) directly over my building at low altitude. I managed to run outside just in time to see it pass overhead on its way to JPL.
I am indeed proud to be an American, the only nation on Earth to go to the moon and have a manned shuttle program.
|Yep, that smudge in the sky is the carrier and shuttle on its first orbit around the city|
|Coming overhead on the second run|
|What a sweet, glorious sight!|
|Goodbye Endeavour, well done!|