Space Shuttle Endeavour Flies Over Los Angeles

Photo credit: NASA

It was a day with much anticipation… On Friday, September 21, 2012, the space shuttle Endeavour was scheduled to fly over numerous places in Los Angeles on its way from Edwards Air Force Base to Los Angeles International Airport during its final journey to its new home at the California Science Center here in Los Angeles. Perched atop a modified Boeing 747, it was supposed to arrive in the area at about 10:30am and fly at an altitude of 1,500 feet over several LA landmarks — the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, Universal Studios, Disneyland, the Queen Mary, Long Beach Aquarium, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the California Science Center. I had my hopes up, way up, that I would be able to catch a glimpse of it.

Then I realized I had a hair appointment and would be stuck in a salon chair at that time. The morning of its arrival I learned that it wouldn’t arrive in the area until 11:30am and it seemed it would be doing a couple of loops around the city. I was optimistic that I might be able to see it, especially when I heard its route and I was going to be right along it as it made its way from the beach to the Getty Center. It turns out my hair stylist and other clients and stylists in the salon were equally interested in seeing it so we were on a quest not to miss it. Someone was stationed outside the salon to keep us posted.

At one point, we thought it was passing by so we rushed out, me in my cape with wet hair, and ran up to the top of the parking structure next door. We saw nothing except lots of other people on rooftops nearby, and after a few minutes someone came by and said it had already passed and was headed to Hollywood. Disappointed, we headed back down. Another lady who was up there was calling a friend to find out if he had an update and promised to call the salon if she heard or saw anything. Shortly after sitting back down in the chair and continuing the cut, the salon got the phone call that it was coming around. We rushed up again and it was perfect timing. It flew right over us and was amazing.

Taken from a parking structure rooftop in Brentwood.

This picture really doesn’t do it justice. It felt like it was much closer. It looked “ginormous” as the kids would describe it. We all got goosebumps and were mesmerized. Endeavour and the two accompanying jets flew by surprisingly fast, but our hearts were pounding hard for quite a while as we processed what we’d just seen.

Thank you to David Gantt for this more close-up photo!

My kids go to school just down the street closer to the ocean. I was curious if they had had a chance to see it. It turns out they did and they were thrilled by it. The whole school, kindergarten through sixth grade, had been outside and watched it fly by. Sonny, the oldest, admitted he actually ran in the library when it came the first time. He said he saw it two times. The school included pictures of all the kids waiting on the playground and finally seeing it in the weekly newsletter that came out that same day.

Now that the shuttle is in town, we’ll have to wait patiently for it to be installed at the California Science Center and be ready for visitors. October 30, 2012, is opening day. I know I’ll be eager to see it, and so will probably lots of other Angelenos.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime event that, according to the LA Times, enthralled millions of people.

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