Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Did you see it?

That is the question of the day here in D.C. - Did you see it?

See what you might ask? Oh, you know, only the Space Shuttle Discovery on it's way to retirement, piggy-backing on top of a 747 while doing a flyover of the National Mall. If there's something that makes you feel more patriotic than this, you'd be hard pressed to find it.

I had heard a story on NPR this morning discussing the details and logistics that would bring Discovery from her home at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to her final resting place at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near the Dulles International Airport. The DC metro area was given a heads-up that we would be able to see the shuttle between 10am and 12pm if we head to the Mall. Around 9:45, my coworkers began gathering in the hallway wondering when they should go down, and how they would know when it was close? I turned to the most obvious source for this kind of second-by-second details, hashtag #spottheshuttle on twitter, where I learned that the shuttle was early and we were going to miss it! I don't think I've ever seen middle-aged economists and policy analysts power-walk so fast!

We left our building from the entrance facing the mall, and already a good-sized crowd was gathered. Someone gave us the sad news that we missed the fly-by as more people poured from the various Federal building and made their way to Independence Ave. I turned once again to twitter, reading that the Shuttle was going to multiple flybys, so the tears and temper-tantrums among the self-avowed space nerds were averted. Two minutes later, fingers were pointing, cameras were out, and along came the Discovery down the National Mall. We stood there for two more rounds of the show, snapping pictures and just gawking at how cool the whole scene was.

And it was indeed amazing, so close that you could almost see the space-rock chips in the windshield of the Shuttle. The sunshine, warm weather, and swell of patriotic pride rising in the crowd made this one of those moments of true American pride.

Discovery on her 747, with a fighter jet as a guard. 

Discovery and her escort doing a fly-by of the Mall

Feds taking an impromptu break to appreciate the amazing site. As the jogger who passed by said, "it's great to be an American"

1 comment:

  1. great posting! i wasn't able to view it, but i think you captured the moment quite well. THANK YOU!... and yes. it IS great to be an AMERICAN!