Oct 2012

Space Shuttle Endeavour Towed by a Toyota Tundra>

As Southern California preps for the space shuttle Endeavour’s big land-bound move from Los Angeles International Airport to the museum complex adjacent to the 110 Freeway – some of which will be accomplished with the masterful tow of a Toyota Tundra – I’m still basking in the glow of the flyover a couple of weeks ago.

It was September 21st at the crack of noon, and the entire Southland was excited for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. A good neighbor and I decided to go to the Queen Mary here in Long Beach to watch the shuttle flow by atop the designated Boeing 747, with fighter jets on either side as chaperones.

The free buses were full; traffic was terrible but we still managed to make it to the Queen and up to the observation deck in plenty of time to wrangle space to see the planes go by. Cell phone reports said it was coming; it was coming! Even with the dense air of our traditional late night and early morning low clouds and fog, it appeared Endeavour would have a clear shot up the coast from Seal Beach to her final landing spot at LAX.

Some could see her in the distance. I wanted to make sure not to get the haze in my photos – and there she went to the leeward side of the ship – right into the sun – making it difficult to get a good shot. With all the jostling of photographers, the ohs, the ahs, the excitement ever flowing, I was able to get a few reasonable shots.

Although I’ve already seen a shuttle up close and personal at the Udvar-Hazy Museum in Reston, VA, seeing Endeavour in my hometown of Long Beach and making new acquaintances during the wait was such a rewarding experience. While I had to wait to get home to truly see how the shots turned out, even that became an adventure!

The parking lot at the Queen Mary was over-full and the buses couldn’t get to us or out of the lot. Our driver muscled her way through the madding crowd and, eventually got us home. We cheered her on as she drove and thanked her profusely as we departed. Everyone kept calm, realized we’d seen some magic and prepared to face the balance of the day with a better attitude than what we’d had before the majestic Endeavour flew by.

By Anne Proffit