Goodbye Old Friend
This morning I had a doctors appointment at 9:30, which was the same time the Space Shuttle Endeavor was due to fly over the Bay Area.
This made me very cranky. It’s so hard to get in to see this specialist, so I simply accepted my fate.
Today is one of the few days I’ve been grateful for the Bay Area’s marine layer. The fog delayed the takeoff and am I ever glad it did.
After finishing my appointment, I climbed up in the Jeep and listened close to the radio. I chose a course on southbound 101 hoping to catch a glimpse.
I turned off at the exit for my mid-peninsula place of employment, and on the radio they said “Endeavor has just left Oakland and is making it’s way to the Golden Gate.”
That meant I had maybe 15 minutes. I saw a few people milling around in a grassy public space so I turned quick into the parking lot, tugged the parking brake, and joined them.
“Do you think it will come by here?” I asked the older couple already there, setting up their camera gear.
The man who so profoundly resembled my dad talked me through his reasoning as to why where we were standing would be a good viewing spot. His logic was spot on.
I teared up a little. How cool it would have been to share this with my dad. He used to take me to all the air shows at Kirtland Air Force base as I grew up. It’s probably his fault I’ve always been fascinated by fighter jets and the Space Shuttle. He would have dug this flyby a lot.
As the time passed, more people started showing up, all asking the same thing “do you think this will be a good spot?”
Then suddenly, “There it is!!”
And there it was.
The plane carrying the shuttle moved so slow, seemingly impossible to stay aloft moving that slow, and at a pretty low flight deck too.
I tried to take photos but the haze was no photographer’s friend. So instead I put my camera down and just watched. As I said to a friend on FB, it was like a slow funeral procession for a much beloved icon.
I teared up a lot. I’m not even embarrassed to say it.
The shuttle was a big part of my growing up and for me its retirement is met with sadness and a bit of frustration at how, over time, NASA mishandled the program.
Onward to the next adventures, old friend!
Hey, you know what? The next step in space travel may just hit a little close to where I come from.
Here’s a few photos of today’s flyover from the local paper:
Two icons together, Endeavor and the Golden Gate Bridge
Endeavor and its fighter jet escort near one tower of the Bay Bridge
Images from SFGate.com