I was typing away at the computer when I heard the live coverage of that monster jumbo jet flying Endeavour over Santa Monica. I jumped in my car and drove toward LAX where it would eventually land. The radio coverage continued with interviews of people who were practically out of their minds. They were so excited.
I know and work near the airport. The strategic problem was which vantage point to choose. I saw plenty of traffic near the runways on the East side. And then there were more and more people on the streets. And then I saw all the people on top of the buildings nearby. This was crazy and fun. I decided to try Airport Boulevard.
I parked my car near 93rd and Airport. Seeing the news helicopters, I started walking southbound toward Century Boulevard. I was trying to remember how the runways lined up with the boulevards when cars started honking. I looked up and HOLY SHIT THAT THING IS HUGE. Flying westbound toward LAX, peeking between buildings and maybe 300 feet over Airport Boulevard, trailed by two fighter jets, it was Endeavour. WOW. I see passenger jets all the time, but that was insane. The images you see on TV are nothing like the actual thing. The 747 is massive, but aeronautic and slender. The shuttle is a beast. It’s a meaty cargo rocket, for sure. The two look like an albatross giving a piggyback ride to a condor. Or like Japanese monsters wrestling it out over Tokyo, California. They together looked more massive than any of the surrounding buildings.
I remembered hearing the radio saying they might fly over LAX a second time (they’d done it earlier) before the final approach. I ran down to Century and waited there. Have any of you guys heard? Is it still going? Not sure. I looked up at the building watchers, they were still staring at the airport. Or the ocean? Couldn’t tell. But about 5 minutes later, they’d begun to swing back and look eastbound again. It was still going — the luck. About another 5 minutes later the roof birds started pointing. I looked down Century Boulevard and here it came, on final approach. I was just North of the ocean-bound flight path. GOD DAMN THAT THING IS HUGE. It swung a little more South and dipped below the roof of a large parking garage. I turned to the South, and I saw the tail pop up above power lines on Airport Boulevard. It’s mere feet off the ground! Anybody directly underneath it now must have felt like reaching up and grabbing it, all 700,000 pounds of beast and plane. It disappeared again. Seconds later it went on and landed, on some runway I couldn’t see. We heard a thunderous roar as the 747′s four jet engines flew into reverse and braked the shuttle on the tarmac. It was done. The final flight of the great space rocket, Endeavour. What a sight.
Then I got choked up. Awesome.
ADD: Take a look. Here’s what I mean: