Californians young and old came out to greet the retired space shuttle Endeavour as it landed in Los Angeles last week atop a jumbo jet.
Endeavour, a veteran of 25 flights to space, is due to take up residence soon as an exhibit at the California Science Center in its new Los Angeles home. Endeavour hopscotched across the country from Florida to Texas, eventually arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Friday (Sept. 21), riding piggyback aboard NASA's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
During Endeavour's arrival in Los Angeles, the shuttle flew over landmarks such as Disneyland, the Getty Museum, the Santa Monica Pier and Universal Studios. Photographer Olivia Hemaratanatorn watched Endeavour's arrival with the crowd gathered at L.A.'s Griffith Park Observatory, which affords a view of the famous "Hollywood" sign. Here's what some of the onlookers had to say:
"My dad was a B-24 pilot in World War II and he passed away two years ago. I got laid off last Friday and thought I'd make something of today. It was one of the most majestic things I had ever seen. I'm going to cry. It was so beautiful. I love the way it sits on the back of the plane, kind of like she's tired and he's bringing her home. I'm also depressed we don't have no manned flights planned. There should be money for NASA … It seems like an end of an era." -- Steph Truitt, 56 [L.A. Space Fans Welcome Shuttle Endeavour (Photos)]
"I came to check out the shuttle Endeavour, to show support. It was humongous. It was so worth it — worth the heat, the crowd. Makes you feel all patriotic again." -- Marcela Ali, 32
"It's the end of manned spaceflight, maybe for the rest of my lifetime. It's a historic event. I had to be here. When my dad was 14, he watched Lindbergh take off. This is the full circle.
I was in elementary school when they launched Sputnik, high school was walking on the moon, and now this in my lifetime." - Bob McKenna, 58
"I wanted to see Endeavour. I've been following it since July on Twitter and everything trying to get to it.
It was super amazing. I'm so glad we woke up so early. I can't wait for the parade and when it gets to the Science Center. Can you imagine seeing it on the ground?" -- Midori Gutierrez, 25
"I heard it was a spacecraft. I wanted to see it and know what it looked like. I was surprised because it was really big!" -- Sidney Wilkison, 9
"We came here today to see the rocket. When I saw it on TV, I thought it was cool. If you watch it on TV, it's on a camera. I watched it in real life so it's better." -- Emiliano Toele, 7
"To see the space shuttle was amazing. We ditched school to come to see it fly over for the last time and it was worth it." -- Makena Armitage, 7 1/2
"I thought it was cool! We woke up at three in the morning to come here. I wanted to be part of history." -- Kristi Wilkison, 39
"I came here to witness history in the making and to enjoy a good time with my little brother. Magnificent! I was star struck, no comment, basically shocked and awed. It was one high point of my life." -- Fernando Pelaxtla, 22
"We wanted to see the shuttle fly over, just to see it and not [only] on newsreels or books or hear about it in elementary school classes.
"It was amazing. It was a strange sense of pride to think of where it's been, that it's flown out of our atmosphere and for it to be this close.
"(The pilots) knew how special it was for everyone. They passed three times, [providing] not just a view from underneath but the side as well. It's a marvel of engineering and ingenuity." -- Angat Gaada, 28
"It's coming home to California after being around the Earth like 407 times or something like that. Also, [we came] to have a piece of California history." -- Phil Phanm, 22
"It was breathtaking. It was more than I thought it was going to be. When I heard everyone cheer, I got so excited." -- Rey Burbank, 55
For those Californians who didn't get a chance to see Endeavour fly in, it's not too late. Next month, starting Oct. 12, the orbiter will make its final trek from the airport to its museum home. During the 12-mile (19-kilometer) trip, the shuttle will be paraded through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles, giving thousands of people an up-close view of Endeavour on the move one last time.