September 21st, 2012

me 1961

Endeavour Fly By

Twelve thousand, half-million, million and more
Picnicking out on the warm-water shore.
Nobody notes that we're always at hand
To watch all the space-ships that take off and land.

- Witnesses' Waltz by Leslie Fish

Last night I decided that I was going to take an early, but extended lunch (my boss replied - "you're going to brunch"), so I could watch the Shuttle Endeavour fly by. I spent part of yesterday evening trying to figure out where to go to watch. There were differing accounts as to what the actual flight path would be - one said that it would be over the Oakland Airport, another said that it would go through Hayward & Fremont and cut over across 580 away from the airport. This made me slightly crazy and I *really* wanted to see the shuttle. All these years, I've only seen her on tv, never in person.

If she were going to fly by the airport, I could just hang out at the beach. If she wasn't - well then I'd better go find a spot.

Since she was to fly over the Chabot Observatory, Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge and then back over the Bay Bridge on her way down to NASA/Ames/Moffet Field, and then onto Los Angeles, I figured I should find a spot to watch the Bay Bridge. The best spot that I knew of was by St. George Spirits, at the old Naval Aircraft Station. The view from the parking lot, well all the parking lots along that strip, front what had been the run ways for the air station. Your view is the water and the Bay Bridge.

I drove over and there were about 4 cars in the lot I picked (next door to St. George's). Several people had biked over. Within half an hour, there were at a least a dozen cars. People were sitting on the car hoods, a few on top of their cars. Mostly adults - just a few kids (preschool). By 10am, St. George's lot was half full, there were about 20 cars in my lot and the lot further down had about the same number.

Around 10:15, we got our first view of the shuttle. She was coming from the airport and was flying by the Oakland hills - probably on her way to the Chabot Observatory and Berkeley Lawrence Livermore Lab. She looked pretty low and I would have needed a much fancier camera to get a decent picture. There was still a bit of fog, which made the viewing more difficult. Pretty nifty!

As the shuttle was going to fly back over the Bay Bridge on her way down to NASA/Ames, I waited around for her to come back around. Wow! She was flying low and then YEEEHAW! She did a loop around the air station!!!! She came in over the beach and around the station and she was huge and so very close to the ground. Wow. *sigh*

Then she continued down the Bay...

Farewell, Endeavour.
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