Today, the weather was cold and windy and yet fitting for the occasion. Today I would witness the delivery of the Orbiter Enterprise. The Shuttle that never had a chance to soar into space but only glide on its own back to earth for a series of test landings. And even now the Enterprise wouldn’t land on its own instead riding piggyback atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747.
The weather had been unseasonably warm, except of course, for today. As I drove off this morning, I thought, maybe I should have brought gloves. The fact that it was April convinced me otherwise and not the steady 30-mile per hour wind creating a wind chill of what felt like 30 degrees.
Unlike the hundreds of thousands of people that surrounded Cape Canaveral in May 2010 today I found myself at a dead end residential street about a mile from the runways of JFK airport with only a hand full of photographers, space junkies and probably a few trekies at a little unknown State Park. A park that turned out to have a priceless view of what was about to take place.
I found my spot nestled up against a battered sea wall. It offered very little protection from the wind and hours later I’m still tasting sand and at some point I couldn’t feel my fingers. But knowing you’re witnessing history is worth the wait and worth the sacrifice.
Unlike when I was at Cape Canaveral, I had a huge countdown clock to look at. Here there was nothing. Just scanning the horizon and waiting. As I looked out past the Verrazano Bridge, something caught my eye. And there it was The Enterprise. Very distant and moving slowly, the 747 skimmed over the New York City skyline parading its precious cargo for all to see.
After heading up to the Tappan Zee and back down the Hudson, over to Jones Beach and Eisenhower Park in Nassau, the Enterprise made its last decent on its final voyage.
A reminder of things that once were and would never be again. A reminder that we need to continue to boldly go...where no one has gone before.
The Enterprise is now owned by the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City and is scheduled to be on display in July of 2012.