to my personal photography blog. I specialize in making unique and highly detailed photographs. Notice I said making and not taking. Yes I take photos but a lot of time and work is involved in pushing and punishing the pixels in my images to achieve the look I like.
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Entries in Space Shuttle (4)
This was such a great day! Kathy, my Mom and I all traveled to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour on display at the California Science Center. This building is a temporary structure which will be used until the new museum extension and Shuttle display area are built. While Endeavour will eventually be displayed in a launch configuration, complete with the huge orange external fuel tank and white solid rocket boosters, today you can walk underneath her. This allows very close inspection of the orbiter’s thermal tiles which clearly show the rigors of both launch and re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. If you are in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend going to see this amazing example of American ingenuity and innovation.
I had a few flickr emails asking if I had taken a picture of “my team” (my Mom) at Disneyland while we were there for the Endeavour flyover. I did and thought this location would be the perfect place since this sign probably won’t be seen at Disneyland again. Especially since "Endeavour" is misspelled!
So many people had gathered and it was really great how friendly people were being, sharing information about where Endeavour might be and when it might arrive. In particular we met 2 very nice ladies (I’m so sorry I forgot your names in all of the excitement) while we were waiting who helped pass the time with interesting and enjoyable conversations about our individual experiences at the Disneyland Resort. Ladies if you need a higher resolution picture of the shuttle flyover just email me and I’ll send them to you.
While we were waiting, I received a phone call or text message (I can’t remember) from my co-worker Geri, telling me that the shuttle had just flown by her in Pasadena and was heading south towards Disneyland. We had all taken refuge from the heat (which was considerable) by waiting in the shade of the elevated monorail tracks.
I mentioned to the group that we probably should move out to the adjacent open plaza area between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure so we could get a better view when Endeavour arrived. We started walking toward the thousands of people that had gathered there when several people across the plaza started screaming and pointing to the sky. I could hear the roar of approaching jets and quickly moved forward while turning and raising my camera to the sky. I immediately saw the SCA with Endeavor and sensed more than saw the F-18 Hornet chase planes. I started tracking Endeavour which was right over my head and began firing off shots. By the time she was out of sight, I had taken almost 40 images. The crowd began applauding and screaming wildly. Nobody left, we all were hoping for another pass but it wasn’t in the cards.
We heard talk that the SCA had to loiter near Northern California waiting for fog to burn off and therefore had to accelerate the flight schedule to meet fuel fractionation requirements for landing at LAX. I did hear on the news that one of the fly-over sites was skipped completely greatly disappointing the mass of people who had gathered there. I guess we were fortunate to see Endeavour at all. I know we will never forget it.
I’ve always been a big space nerd. I never cared if my friends, family or strangers thought I was odd for getting so excited and wrapped up with anything to do with the space program. When I was 7 years old I flew to the moon many times in a spacecraft of my own design (a discarded refrigerator box which I had dragged from the side of a dumpster into my backyard). My team and I spent many late nights (till almost 6:30 pm on school nights) installing the windows (my mom helped me cut holes in it) and installing the control panels (drew them with crayons) and toggle switches (Popsicle sticks). I installed a navigation computer (also drawn with crayons) and all of the other flight controls required to fly a box for a major appliance to the moon.
I really wanted to be an Astronaut so I drank a lot of Tang and waited for NASA to discover they badly needed the services of a 7 year old boy strung out on high fructose corn syrup.
Well NASA never did call, but I never lost my keen interest in the space program either. So I was still paying attention to developments when in 1975, Rockwell International's Downey, CA plant began assembly of OV-102 - Columbia, the first flyable and reusable space shuttle just a few miles from my home. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the plant (left the refrigerator box at home) to see Columbia being built.
6 years later in March of 1981 I sat in my living room, literally on the edge of my seat, staring at our TV as Columbia, having successfully orbited the earth 36 times, re-entered the atmosphere and headed for a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of California. Veteran Astronaut John Young was at the controls and sitting in the co-pilot seat was rookie Astronaut Bob Crippen. Bob was so taken with the view of our state from 135,000 feet he called out “What a way to come to California!” and urged John to take a moment to look. John, ever the professional pilot took a quick peek and said “the view hasn’t changed much”. Right about then I was startled when I heard what sounded like two distinct explosions. Columbia had just anounced its presence, slowing from supersonic to subsonic flight as the nose and tail set off a double sonic boom which rattled windows across Southern California.
Over the years NASA added more shuttles to the fleet and after tragically losing Challenger, obtained authorization from Congress to replace it with a new Space Shuttle which would be called Endeavour.
Designed and built in California, it is fitting that Endeavour returned home today. And I now 43 years past the age of 7, took my team (my mom) to Disneyland where we both witnessed Endeavour’s last flight and I dreamed for just a moment of summer evenings spent flying over the backyard.
So thanks Mom for never once crushing a little boy’s hopes and dreams and thanks Endeavour – Welcome home.