Watching The Space Shuttle Over Burbank


While the Space Shuttle Endeavor flying over Burbank was a sight we’ll never see again, it also served as a reminder of what great things American has accomplished with our space program.

Burbank must be special. The shuttle flew right over the heart of our town. The rest of the San Fernando Valley, with the exception of Toluca Lake, Universal City,  part of North Hollywood, and a little bit of Studio City, were clearly slighted.   Don’t you just love living in Burbank?

At my granddaughter’s school, Edison Elementary, the students were allowed outside to watch the shuttle fly by less than ½ mile from the campus. Most school principals recognized the historical importance of the event, and allowed their students to experience it.  Students at several campuses got to see the shuttle directly over their schools.

My son and I, along with my baby granddaughter, went to the parking structure at the children’s pediatrician’s office.  Some of our neighbors were there, along with mom’s with toddlers, and about 20 people with cameras. There was even a family there from New Mexico.  It was quite a diverse group with just one purpose — see the shuttle.

We were not disappointed. Our first glimpse was when the shuttle made its way from the Getty Museum, maneuvering to fly past the HOLLYWOOD sign and the Griffith Observatory.  Then it made a wide sweeping turn over parts of Glendale as it followed the Golden State Freeway northward, until it turned west and flew approximately over Olive Ave. on its way to Universal Studios.

Cameras clicked and everyone marveled at how close the shuttle, atop the Boeing 747, was to us in our vantage point 40 feet above Magnolia Blvd.  We watched as the plane made a wide turn and headed east for a run above the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Someone asked, “Where’s the sonic booms?” reminding us of the twin sonic booms the shuttles made returning from space to Edwards Air Force Base.

I think everyone got a little extra boost to our national pride as we watched Endeavor fly by.  It reminded me of a day back in 1984 when the Olympic torch was carried through town on its way to the Los Angeles Olympics.  On that day my family and I stood on the corner of Beachwood Dr. and Olive Ave. watching the torch bearers run by. The crowd broke into a chant of “USA, USA.”

There was no chanting today.  Perhaps it was the bittersweet overtone to today’s event.  It was great to see the shuttle, but it also served to remind us that this marks the end of America’s manned space program. We are the country that put a man on the moon, and now we have to rely on others to get into space — hitching rides with the Russians.  Kind of makes you sad.  What has happened to America?