Town Square

Space shuttle passes over Mountain View

Original post made on Sep 21, 2012

A massive crowd gathered on the tarmac at Moffett Federal Airfield Friday morning to watch the historic last flight of space shuttle Endeavour as it was ferried to a museum in Los Angeles.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 21, 2012, 12:05 PM


Posted by fun, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Watching the space shuttle was so much more fun than those folks had waiting in line to buy cell phones.

Posted by Elaine, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Another poorly planned NASA Ames event. The Shuttle flew in one hour late behind Hanger 1 and no where near over the runway as advertised. It made one pass and it was gone. According to one official, it had spent two much time over the Golden Gate Bridge trying to get a good glamor shot.

Posted by John, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Agreed, a complete fiasco

Posted by Chris Parkinson, a resident of Willowgate
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm

A fantastic day to take a walk down the trail, end up with military and hi tech workers on a gorgeous morning. Nothing disappointed here other than the sad loss of a NASA giant.

We are burying the Space Shuttle today.

From actually experiencing the hot glowing red tiles one day at Edwards while testing huge rocket motors (that's right the one Burt Rutan stole) and it was the Space Shuttle landing at a rare Edwards Air Base flight, to today, this morning waiting with thousands on that little bridge between the civilian the military world. It was a huge day in Mountain View, and we will have some huge days ahead. Be patient Mountain View friends, we have something heady coming soon. Details around Christmas.

Posted by Rocket_Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Fantastic! It flew directly over my office building at low altitude on Mary Street & Maude in Sunnyvale. It was one of the most amazing things I have witnessed. While the "show" was short, it gave me goosebumps and was an incredible perc for going to work today. Sorry that Elaine and John feel cheated but I appreciate and will always cherish my memory of this incredible event because for me it was absolutely spectacular! Thank you NASA for giving us a historic farewell flyover and a chance to see and appreciate the Endeavor while we say good-bye to the space shuttle program.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Oh give them a break Elaine. Seriously. The pilot was told to fly over Moffet and for whatever reason picked the middle of the base rather than the airstrip itself. I doubt anyone at NASA was intending to disappoint you. Am sure you were expecting it to fly at 50ft straight over the runway. It looked fine to me. And people around me were informed it would be around 10:15 or so WELL BEFORE it ever reached SF. It was only 15 minutes later than that.

Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I had a great, although short, view from in front of my house.

I can't believe it didn't even circle around for a minute or two considering the hype NASA made about the flyover.

My Mom (who works in Sacramento) said it circled around a few times before leaving and my friends in San Francisco said the same thing.

So I was expecting something similar. I guess they were running late for their flyover of Disneyland.

But it was still fun to see. I was thinking about braving the crowds on base. I'm glad I didn't.

Posted by Wow, a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Some people complain about anything. Be happy you saw it.

Posted by Michael, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

You'd think a trained commercial pilot could fly over a runway. About 30,000 people (just a guess) were waiting along a 3-mile fence (just a guess) to get a good shot. What an embarrassment.

Posted by juniperk, a resident of Gemello
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

It should have spent few more minute flying around NASA Ames instead of just giving us 30 seconds glimpse. Come on, this is a NASA Ames Space research center. Isn't it?

Posted by dee dee, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm

i live right off 101 in mountain view i got to see it go by as it was going to moffet what a beautiful sight. it was quick but memorable

Posted by Rodger, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm

We saw shuttle flyover near the Ellis street gate at Ames Research Center, it was a fantastic sign giving us goose bumps all over, I will always remember this day. It was so worth the time to make sure we were one of the lucky ones to see the last flight.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm

@Michael: You ARE a bit prone to hyperbole. Maybe that is the reason for disappointment? The number of attendees was a few thousand. And the space we were in was around 1/3 of a mile long (I am not sure we even used that much). It was up in the air, ANY spot was about as good as another, no matter where you were standing and where you thought it was going to pass. It was NEVER going to be a touch and go over the runway!

Posted by Ron, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm

@juniperk: I DO agree that I would have liked to have seen it do another pass or spend more time. BUT, we ARE talking about a jumbo jet with a space shuttle on its back. I don't think the turning radius is that tight. Turning around and coming for another run would have been trickier than we expect I would think. Especially since airspace in various areas was being cleared and it had to keep moving and stay out of SFO and SJC's way.

Posted by Michael, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm

@Ron: I'm sorry you did not understand that the exaggeration was intentional. Having to explain this diminishes the humorous effect by at least an order of magnitude. Also, I did not say I was disappointed. I had a great time, and I got a great photo of the shuttle flying over Hangar One. But if you were there you would know that the whole event was set up for the shuttle to fly 200 ft over the runway. That's what they announced at the event, and that's how everyone, including media, was set up to record the event.

Posted by Ron, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm

@Michael: Saying "3 miles (just a guess)" and "what a disappointment"does not sound like intentional exaggeration, but whatever.

I was there, and I heard the same announcement. But he did NOT say "this will happen". What he said was "because this is an runway they are likely to come down to 200 feet". But he did not know it as a fact. In the end it is the pilot's judgement. You stated it was an embarrassment. That DOES sound like disappointment to me, but I guess I will take your word for it.

Posted by Bruno, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Michael's not alone in his disappointment. My dad took my nephew to Moffett early and there were already 1,000 people lining the runway. He said they had to be told where the plane was, because they were all facing the wrong direction.

I was in S.F. by the Bay Bridge, which it was supposed to fly over, and all of the people lined up got just a glimpse from a long distance. The plane did fly over the Bay Bridge, but on the Eastern span. Many of my friends in the East Bay got an excellent view. S.F. outside of the Golden Gate and Moffett Field not so much.

Posted by Andrew, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Despite the traffic, despite the long wait and the delays, I was glad to see it. Yes, I would have loved multiple passes. I was so distracted by my terrible camcorder skills and didn't get to really soak it in. But I saw the shuttle, and it was worth it.

The shuttle flew over NASA Ames Research Center. And if you have to make one pass, that's the part that it should have flown over. Some folks are forgetting that Moffett Field and the runways were Navy property, not NASA, until recently.

Posted by Michael, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm

@Ron: you are misquoting me. I never used the word "disappointment." I do think it's embarrassing when a throng of people line up against the fence with cameras and video recorders (including media) and the 747 flies on the other side of Hangar One, but that is unrelated to my enjoyment of the event and probably most of the people who attended. I was really glad to be a part of the event. I did engineering work for one of the space shuttle missions and worked directly with the astronauts and supported them during the mission (from the FCR in Houston), and I also worked on the NASA-Ames base for a couple of years. And I'm sorry if my humor is too subtle for you to understand. I did not actually think there were 30,000 people there.

Posted by DON, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm

The preceding critics are right. The flight did not go over the runway as advertised and given the large number of folks who waited extra long, it was bad PR for NASA for the plane to at least not circle around for a better look. Black eye for NASA. And extra annoying if the delay was due to photography "poses" at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm

This is probably not the last of Space Shuttles, there is the X-37B/C and the HL-20 / Dream Chaser.

Posted by WOWd, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I had a beautiful view of it from the Shoreline Baylands. It was spectacular! A piece of history to behold. It was only a few minutes late, but I enjoyed hanging out with all the other shuttle enthusiasts. It was like a mini 4th of July - lots of spirit and pride.

Posted by Greg David, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 22, 2012 at 12:49 am

Given all the hype... I call this another NASA failure...

Posted by Shuttle seeker, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 22, 2012 at 7:06 am

It would have been great to see it fly over the runway, but I was more dramatic seeing it make its entrance from behind the skeleton of hanger one. Now that will be an image for the history books!

Posted by Rocket_Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 22, 2012 at 8:44 am

@Wow - Looks like you are right. Some people will indeed complain about anything.

Sheesh folks, you got to see the freakin' space shuttle and yet some of you can only complain. Perhaps the pilot made some last second command decisions and changed the flight path and so you got what you got, which was an incredible opportunity to see history fly past you. But instead of being delighted, some on this discussion insist on feeling cheated, and some must find someone or something to blame because they had to wait longer and got less than they feel they deserved.

If you want to get a longer, lower and closer look, go see it once the display is open at the California Science Center.

Posted by Watcher, a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 22, 2012 at 8:59 am

Considering we all helped pay for it and that the announcer on the Ames runway podium even thought it would fly up the runway possibly "as low as 200 feet" (which I thought would be a pretty dangerous thing to do), yeah it was a huge black eye for NASA (the same people that won't let Google save Hanger 1). Another official there also indicated it had spent too much fuel trying to get a good photo with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background (no doubt to line NASA execs offices, again at taxpayer expense).

Posted by Happy Dad, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

It was a great time seeing citizens of our area all focused on a special event. No politics, no worries just enjoyment. I have to agree we were all waiting for the second fly over. My kids saw it from MV high and Graham, they said it was an exciting time at school.

Posted by BC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm

NASA announce over 20,000 people were in attendance and yes, the hour delay was announced a day in advanced. The crowd took over an hour to exit the facility. Moffett field is a two lane field, any pilot could see that for miles and should be capable of a fly by over the planned strip especial since it was following the bay and they have these tings called Towers and Radar. For the plane to miss was a slap in NASA face, or possibly Pete Worden.

Tiff brews between NASA Ames and NASA HQ
Web Link

It is a shame the fans who made the special effort to be on the Field were the ones suffered the most. The Hanger obscured the view of the Shuttle until after it passed over the Hanger. The TV crews and NASA photographer were disposition as were many of these fans who probably spent 3-5 hours to get on the airfield.

Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Just figures.. Hangar One gets in the way of something cool.

Another reason to tear that sucker down.

Posted by BC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 22, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Actually the best part of the day was seeing Hanger 1. Since most of the shuttle flight was missed. A truly engineering marvel for it's time. No interior structure just and exoskeleton. It is huge, I recall balloon rides we given inside during another airshow. Hangar One is still one of the world's largest freestanding structures.

Posted by BC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

For those who missed the shuttle flight, the PA paper has a video link of this paper's video... ??? WOWT

Web Link

Posted by tommygee54, a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I was standing across the street from my house on San Pierre Way looking towards Middlefield Rd when I heard the sound of an airplane. A few seconds later, above the trees, I saw the large 747 with the shuttle on top of it flying by. And to me, HOW BIG!!! The shuttle was in view for only 3 seconds due to the low flightpath. But that was long enough for me to remember for the rest of my life. However I would have had a longer view if I had thought to stand on the Shoreline Blvd. overpass above the 101. But I am satisfied with my 3 second view. I was also recording the event on my DVR on channels 4 and 5.

Posted by Mr. Big, a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 24, 2012 at 11:22 pm

If you had been reading the news leading up to shuttle flyby you would have known that its flight path was going to bring it right over the baylands from SF.

There were tens of thousands of people in the Mtn. View baylands hills alone (behind Shoreline Amphitheater and on Crittendon Hill). This is where I had planned all along to watch the flyby and we had a good 2-3 minute view of the shuttle. It flew right over head, it was spectacular.

FYI, the flight was paid for by the California Science Museum and I can't wait to see it. It will be placed in launch position which will make a more dramatic impression.

Posted by juniperk, a resident of Gemello
on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm

It was an awesome sight to see it fly right over the hangar in spite of the delay and massive number of people in there. I wish it had made a short landing and everyone would have enjoyed it more.

Posted by ARC guy, a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I learned today that the reason the overflight missed the runway was that nobody, not Worden, not the airfield, not code J, ... NOBODY told the shuttle folks that there was an event out at the runway. So when they made their approach, and the tower said "you're cleared to 200 ft," the response from the crew was "huh?" They had interpreted flying over Ames as flying directly over Bldg 200 -- which they did perfectly. Hilarious.

Posted by BC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Anyone who thinks a pilot knows where building 200 must also think they use Apple map as a navigational tool.