Endeavour swans California skies in whirlwind tour
Endeavor’s carefully choreographed victory lap was by far the most elaborate of the surviving shuttle fleet. Discovery is home at the Smithsonian Institution’s hangar in Virginia after flying over the White House and National Mall. Atlantis will remain in Florida, where it will be towed a short distance to the Kennedy Space Center’s visitor center in the fall.
Public safety officials braced for congestion, worried that motorists would ‘‘gawk and drive’’ as Endeavour flew over.
Traffic came to a near stop along a freeway near the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory east of Los Angeles when looky-loos pulled onto the shoulders and center median. California Highway Patrol officers came through and blared over loud speakers for people to move on.
As Endeavour approached LAX, other airplanes were forced to circle and wait. Passengers on an American Airlines flight from Miami snapped pictures and shot video out their windows as the shuttle arrived.
‘‘This was a once-in-a-lifetime event,’’ said pilot Doug Causey, who has been flying for 29 years. ‘‘That was a real treat to see something like that.’’
Contributing to this report were Associated Press staff members Tom Verdin and Juliet Williams in Sacramento; Terry Chea and Marcio Sanchez in San Francisco; John Antczak in Pasadena; Jae Hong in Santa Monica; and Greg Risling, Martha Mendoza, Raquel Maria Dillon, Richard Vogel and Chris Carlson in Los Angeles.
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