Discovery’s Final Flight: Sharing A Historic Moment from Far Away

“Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am 
to be blessed.” 
― Mary OliverEvidence: Poems

Dear Students,

This morning I grabbed my phone and found myself in the middle of a spontaneous party that erupted across the net. I didn’t watch it on TV. I used Twitter, Flickr and Facebook to watch the space shuttle Discovery ride atop a 747 on it’s final trip bound for it’s new home at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum annex in Virginia.

Sometimes, a community stops

Standing on the Rt 28/Frying Pan Road overpass in Herndon with Elyse Darling

and waits

Charlotte Geary chimed in at the Netherlands Carillion along the George Washington Parkway

for a moment

A ranger at the Manassas Battlefield National Park took in the shuttle over the old battlefield. Mount Vernon shared a picture on their Facebook page as well.

to enjoy

My childhood friend from Central PA, Tom Lehman used his smart phone to capture the flyover

a last look

My former co-workers looked out the window. Thanks Ami Boshardt for the picture!

at something

Stopping on his morning commute, my high school friend Ed Zakreski caught her as she headed west

very special.

The shuttle is nearly to the airport now and the chase plane is running low on fuel..Elysa Darling captures a last look

Pluto 95 Heavy, you are clear to land

Touchdown at Dulles International Airport photo by Krysta Scharlach. Gallery here.

I scrolled through my Facebook feed and followed #SpottheShuttle on Twitter. I keep my twitter account to participate in conversations that occurring locally, regionally, nationally or globally. All you need is a twitter account, look at “trending topics”  click on a keyword to dive in.

I asked my friend Elysa Darling to share what it was like this morning for my library kids:

I was at the museum last month…and a docent was telling us all about the pending arrival of the shuttle. It was fascinating. I was looking at the Enterprise and wondering how the heck something that size can even get off the ground. Just the amount of fuel to get it here is crazy. He told us it has to stop and refuel along the way since it can’t make it all the way to DC on a single tank.

I remember as a kid staying home from school (I was sick) and watched the Challenger disaster live on TV. For some reason that really had an impact on me and I still remember it pretty well. I think back then it was still a big deal to see a space shuttle launch. We used to get dressed up to go on an airplane ride! It seems to have lost its novelty, so I was so surprised to see the thousands of people who turned out.

Since the schedule was vague I figured I’d miss it, but I had my new Nikon with me just in case I caught a glimpse. I was on the Rte. 28 / Frying Pan Rd. in Herndon overpass across the highway from Dulles Airport. I usually go this route to work every day and love seeing planes take off and land so close since it’s parallel to the runway. It usually takes me 12 or so minutes to get there but it took a good 30 minutes plus today. Hundreds of people were stopped on the side of the road all the way up to the airport. I’d never seen anything like that out here before.

When I pulled of the highway exit onto the Frying Pan overpass everyone was stopped and out of their cars. There was an open spot right in the center of the overpass so I decided to park. People were all gathered around and were so excited. I waited about 20 minutes and finally it came in for the approach. You can see the sequence in my Flickr set:

It came by so close and people were yelling and waving. I just kept clicking pictures. My first though was (I think I said out loud) Wow, it’s so dirty! You could really see the wear and tear on it. Very authentic.

That was the best excuse for being late for work and something I’ll remember 30 years from now.

My friend Andrew shared his thoughts and excellent photos on his blog here.

You can watch the last blastoff of the Discovery here. To learn more about the shuttle transition effort go here.

Christian Guirreri took this photo from Rosslyn, Virginia.

Thank you to my DC/VA friends sharing your experience this morning with me. Stop by Udvar Hazy Smithsonian in person or online to participate in the Discovery Festival.

Max’s friend went to visit Discovery at the Udvar Hazy Museum in Dulles, Virginia as a treat after a trip to the doctor’s. He took this picture for us! Thanks for the pic my friend!!

Into the Wild Blue Yonder,
Mrs. Kenney

Librarian tip: The Museum is free but parking is $15.00. Just thought you would want to know.


“I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.” William Shakespeare


One thought on “Discovery’s Final Flight: Sharing A Historic Moment from Far Away

  1. How Awesome! I watched Columbia land the one time it came to Las Cruces NM (1984?).

    I also watched the Challenger the day of the disaster. I remember it so vividly.

    When they too the Shuttle to the Smithsonian, my husband was able to watch amid the media ruckus.

    I miss the wonder we once had for space exploration and travel. Thank you for a nostalgic post!



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