Clarke Resident Travels to Witness End of an Era

By Bob Stewart

Photo credit Bob Stewart

I can remember excitedly watching the first manned space launches from when I was just eight years old. Seemed like I watched almost every launch from the Mercury launch of Friendship 7 through the Apollo era. Today was the last flight of a manned spacecraft for some time. I doubt that I’ll see another US manned space launch in my lifetime, so I went to Dulles today and perched on top of Parking Garage #2 along with probably a thousand other people to watch as Discovery flew one last time, though unmanned and piggy-backed onto a 747. What a sight! I got there around 9:10 and the first flyby took place around 9:45 am. The 747 was about 300 feet above ground level, flew by the tower and headed into D.C. for what I hear was a lot of low altitude flying around The Mall. About an hour later there was one more flyby before it landed and taxied over to the crane that would take Discovery off of the 747. Ultimately the shuttle will reside in the Udvar-Hazy annex of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum at the edge of Dulles Airport. Very cool to watch the last flight, even unmanned, of our manned space fleet.

Photo credit Bob Stewart

If you attended today’s events or saw the flight from another location, add your story to the comments below.


Several Images submitted by Pam Lettie taken while stopped on Route 28 in Loudoun

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Mary Moran took these photos this morning. She works near Dulles and the shuttle flew over her office building twice.

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  1. Sunshine says:

    Awesome pics! Thanks!

    I remember “mans first step on the moon” (oops, age coming into play now) on the 13” black and white TV. The air/space technology still amazes me and how far we have come!

    Can’t wait to my son’s video and pics as he works close to Dulles and saw it in person…I’m so jealous!

  2. Thanks! I remember watching Columbia lift off on STS-1 back in 4th grade, and followed this flight on TV because I had to work. Great pictures!

  3. We saw the “Shuttle’s shuttle” from the Udvar-Hazy lot. The first fly-by was right over our heads. The second was directly in front, coming from south to north (our right to left), then it circled really far to the west. The landing flight came as before, right in front from south to north. It was an amazing sight to see, my boys loved it!

    The best part was the excitement during the fly-bys and the cheering that erupted every time the plane was within view. As soon as the plane flew by the last time for landing, the thousands of people that were there all cheered and clapped for a very long time.

    Truly, a great memory.

  4. Right Winger says:

    It made a couple of passes over the Mall in DC today. The last pass, the pilot took it LOW! That was cool. Lots of folks clapped after each pass. Some people were on the roof of the EPA building and the Commerce Dept. building. They had the best view.

  5. Reach Hi says:

    Feeling fortunate that we were part of the events today. It was so good to see so many Americans gathered in one place, to celebrate the success of the space shuttle Discovery, and enjoy on of the many wonderful opportunities we have in our country. The cheering of all the attendants, and the excitement in all the children certainly proved to be a moment to behold. While it was sad to see this chapter of space exploration come to an end, we anxiously await the beginning of the next chapter.

  6. Great pictures! I was there with my daughter as well. All the kids had a blast! Great sight, but hard to believe we don’t have anything to replace the shuttle. Kind of depressing actually.

  7. J.C.Coon says:

    great photos thanks!

  8. livinginbville says:

    Seeing this fly over our building at work was amazing. It was humbling and a little sad as well. I wish my kids could have been with me.

  9. Fan of NASA says:

    It was awesome to see the shuttle fly over the northern Virginia area yesterday. I remember seeing it as a child when it was first “piggy backed” on a jet to IAD. I remember watching the first shuttle explosion while attending classes at Va. Tech. I will always remember yesterday and the fact that that memory will be shared with my children as well. Here’s to our nation’s future space programs.