Best Field Trip Ever – Endevor Flyby over Griffith Park

Shuttle Endeavor by Ron Ploof

Shuttle Endeavor by Ron Ploof

Sometimes you have to break the rules. Today we played hooky. I surprised my kids by signing them out of school and taking them to Griffith Park Observatory to see the very last flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The day went from anticipation, to sorrow to surprise and elation.

We got to Griffith Park but due to the traffic of other Shuttle spotters we had to park and take the long walk up the hill. As the time approached I feared that we would be under tree cover when the shuttle flew over. So we found a nice open patch of green with a clear view of the sky above the observatory.

We heard it approach, then we heard it leave. Never showed up in our patch of the sky. Moments later the twittervers told me that it had done it’s Griffith flyover and was heading west. Along with a couple hundred folks in that patch, our hopes were dashed.

On the outside I put on my mommy face and and told the kids we could save the day by spending the afternoon at the observatory. On the inside I wanted to scream and cry and then do some more screaming. SO CLOSE and we just picked the wrong side of the street. A few hundred yards away people saw the flyover. Hash tag on my emotions would be #Sorrow, #Pain, #Regret and #Sad.

A few minutes later we reached the Greek Theater and then…yes…the sound…I looked up. It was directly overhead. I desperately grabbed for my camera but missed the shot. It didn’t matter. We saw the last flight of Endever. This time I let out the screams and the tears. I wish I had audio of it. No doubt it would horribly embarrassing babble but I wish I had that audio. Shock, surprise, and pride for my beloved NASA.

Tears too. I am the type of person who crys when I see JPL engineers jumping up and down when they get word from a rover landing on Mars. I let the joyous tears fall in on July 4, 1997 when Pathfinder landed and again when the more recent Curiosity performed it’s risky landing. After thinking we had missed our chance to see the last flight of the Space Shuttle you can imagine my emotions when NASA gave me a second chance.

And then a third. This time I had my camera out. Not the best pictures, mine are at the bottom. The one at the top is from my friend Ron Ploof, Engineer and brilliant Social Media Evangelist.

I live close enough to Orange Counties John Wayne Airport to sometimes hear planes flying over head. After 9-11 I would often think of the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania when I heard a plane. Now, as I type this up I am hearing an occasional plane flying over. Now it sounds like NASA and the future.

On the way home my kids told me this was the best field trip they ever had. This was a good day.

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