INSIDE THE HALLS — HOME SWEET HOME
The first time I saw the space shuttle streak across the Southern California sky, I was just a kid of probably seven years squinting up at the bright blue sky above the high desert north of Los Angeles.
The shuttle was scheduled to land there due to bad weather at its usual landing spot in Florida, so my mother jumped at the opportunity to take my brother – now a pilot (go figure) – and me to see shuttle descend back to Earth.
We clambered into our minivan in the pre-dawn chilly darkness to make the hundred-mile trek up to Edwards Airforce Base.
My memory of that morning is a little fuzzy. But I remember us all staring up at that sky, for what seemed like hours, trying to find that speck of shuttle in the sky. And then finally, an onlooker’s arm shot out. Squinting, I picked it up in my sights and watched it grow larger and larger until the full weight of it was overhead gliding quietly onto its salt-flat landing bed.
With those memories bubbling up again, I once again squinted into the bright blue LA sky – this time from the sweltering, shadeless roof of City Hall East – to see a familiar site in a whole new context.
The Boeing 747 carrying Endeavour on its back and the shuttle’s fighter jet body guards swooped up towards downtown from the south, making a broad 270-degree circuit around City Hall, out over the Los Angeles River and back around Bunker Hill before heading back out over the L.A. basin.
All the while, a sweaty crowd of city workers – yours truly included – looked on, cheered and gawked at the wild sight.
The shuttle is back home in Southern California again. But instead of culminating another successful mission, it was the victory lap for the entire shuttle program. A thrilling and bittersweet homecoming.
— Carter Rubin
Office of LA Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa