Friday, September 21, 2012, marked the end of an era for the NASA Space program. The famous Endeavour Space Shuttle touched down just up the road from my house, at Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX). I was fortunate enough to see the visual marvel land after it's final flight, even though it was piggy backing on a 747.
Our journey began early that morning morning and with 3 of us in the car I had to ride in the back of the truck. It made for a fun adventure as we jumped curbs, sidewalks and even backed into the wall of a parking garage all to find parking. (When you live in LA you do whatever it takes to park your car, especially during major events when the law doesn't stop you.)
After finding what seemed like the perfect viewing stop we learned that the shuttle was still not due to arrive for another 2 hours so we made our way to a coffee house to kill some time and beat the current LA heatwave.
We managed to kill time and upon surveillance of the surrounding area realized the parking structures around us were full on the top level of people standing and waiting for the shuttle to come on by. So we moved our car into a parking structure and made our way up the building to see what the top level offered us. Boy were we in luck. Not only was it in direct eye view of the LAX south runway it was also just a hop skip and climb over the 105 freeway to the landing! I won't lie though, it was rather humorous to find all sorts of people crowding the ledges...
I will warn you that with the crowds came the adventure of shooting through people, which if you as me, gives a better visual of the impact this event had.
The energy was electric as we all awaited the fly by of LAX. It turned out that they were flying low over massive landmarks through out the LA and Southern CA area, some of which were the Hollywood sign, Disney Land, Griffith Park, and then along parts of the coast. Old and young were the people there awaiting just a glimpse if not more of the Endeavour. I'm sure there were a few kids allowed to ditch school and what an amazing teaching tool this could have been for that "ditching" child.
Mingling was had and I learned that several of the viewing public around us happened to be from the surrounding office buildings and were permitted to leave their work spaces to join in on the fun. I had a fun conversation with an engineer who had also recently taken a trip to Hawaii and used that time to experiment with his budding hobby of photography. We had one guy who pulled a caper and got the crowd to believe the shuttle was coming only to chuckle and throw us off. Very well done sir, I say... very. well. done.
Soon there was a crowd stir and the shuttle came swooping by the office building to our right and hovered over the run way! Cheers erupted...
After it flew over the runway it popped back up in the air and headed out over the Pacific. There were still more areas to fly over before it would make it's final landing.
While we awaited the final landing I managed to snap some more shots of the public in all their viewing. It was amazing that the law made it possible for everyone to stop and get out of their car on the darn freeway. So awesome!
After the 15 more minutes of mingling and standing around the crowd cheered once more as the shuttle touched down!
The following shot, even though like most i was shooting between heads, just happened to be bad ass. The flag and shuttle mixed with the crowds, killer!
In the very end of it all we learned that we could have gone down to our very own Hermosa Beach Pier to see a pass by of the Endeavour. However it turned out to be such an adventure where strangers mixed with strangers to celebrate such a epic piece of history. Thanks for taking time to read this adventure. Fell free to click the "share" link and post it on facebook for all to enjoy as you have. -AG