Saturday, September 22, 2012

Space Shuttle LAnding

I like to keep it about motorcycles, but this was way too cool.

We really wanted to see the Space Shuttle landing close up, but wondered if it was possible without arriving super early and also to not get stuck in a huge crowd. This is L.A. after all.

I had heard that the shuttle would be using the south left runway, so I went on Google maps and found an area along Lennox Blvd. just east of the 405 freeway that lined up with it.  On Wednesday my wife and I scouted it out and it appeared very promising. We figured it was best to avoid Avation Blvd. near the Proud Bird restaurant since it and the lookout in El Segundo would be where most people would try to go.

We got to our location in only about 15 minutes and had no idea what to expect. Although a few others had discovered our spot, we had no trouble finding a parking spot. Most were using the area to park at and then walk down under the freeway to La Cienega Blvd. which we were told was a zoo. Later, when more activity started, many more people showed up and started to illegally park, but it still wasn't uncomfortably crowded.  

There really wasn't a firm landing time and it's exact flight plan wasn't told to the public. My wife's friend was in contact with her husband who was up by the Getty Center and was also following tweets. Then my wife was the first to notice the Shuttle several miles to the north heading east. People started getting excited.

We all figured there was at least an hour to go since we thought it still needed to fly over several landmarks. Minutes later, we were all shocked to see it coming in from the east.  I thought, WTF? We blew it! It was way earlier than the estimates plus it appeared to be using a north runway. 
When we saw this, I thought I blew it and were in the wrong flight path! We noticed the wheels weren't down and were really relived. It had to be a north runway fly over. Some didn't know and started to leave.

It turned out to be an LAX fly over. No one had mentioned that would occur so some folks left. Then once again, much sooner than expected, we were surprised when it showed up for what we thought was it's final approach and landing.    
Coming in from the southeast with a hard turn caught everybody off guard.

It was moving at a pretty good clip and it all seem over way too fast, but wait.... the landing gear wasn't down! We also noticed that planes that had landed earlier, came in at a much slower speed. Once again, some folks started to split too early.
Note the gear is still up. Another fly by! How cool is that?
Again, a sort time later, it flew back gear down and ready to land. 
Third time's a charm.
As It turned out, it used south runway right, not left, but we were still fairly close.
It was exciting and actually kind of an emotional experience. To see people from all walks come together, be proud, and in awe. The Space Shuttles represented the best of the best for the USA. We really need something positive like this to help inspire and motivate the people of our country again. Later on the news, I heard it's impact on the children who saw it. I only hope that the politicians would take note.   


"LOUIE" said...

Great shot. I headed over to Dodger stadium and watched it. really impressive.

Greg said...

I have a friend who lives in San Francisco. He has a lice removal business (you read that correctly) and was at an elementary school doing a lice screening when the shuttle flew over. He said it was the coolest experience and he was in the best possible location for it.

Hundreds of kids standing around looking up screaming and he was able to let go and do the same thing. I was super jealous. Great pictures, thanks.