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NASA flyover a preview for space shuttle's dramatic L.A. entrance

August 26, 2012 |  8:26 am

173889 ME 0825 NASA-Aircraft 001 IK

NASA did some prep work Saturday for the highly anticipated tour across the skies of Southern California for the space shuttle Endeavour.

On Saturday, two NASA jets, a T-38 trainer and an F-18 Hornet, circled low across the Southland for several hours, scouting possible routes — and backdrops — for a scenic flyover by Endeavor before its Sept. 20 touchdown in Los Angeles, officials said.

NASA awarded the retired orbiter last year to the California Science Center in Exposition Park, where it will be put on permanent display. The shuttle will be ferried to Los Angeles from Florida's Kennedy Space Center on the back of a modified Boeing 747.

NASA spokesman Michael Curie said Saturday's flights, at about 1,500 feet, were intended to help the agency map out the shuttle's arrival, and the viability of a celebratory flyover.

He said the pilots would examine and photograph potential challenges and hazards in the area, including cellphone, radio and TV towers, and would consider various routes and altitudes. "They need to get as much information as possible ahead of time," he said.

But they also would be looking for the best camera angles for photographs of the shuttle flying over iconic Los Angeles-area landmarks, including the Hollywood sign, Disneyland and the ocean.

"There are a lot of landmarks and beautiful buildings and landscapes in the area that would make tremendous photo ops with the space shuttle flying near it," he said.

When Endeavour's sister shuttle, Discovery, arrived in Washington, D.C., in April, its arrival flight took it past the Capitol, the Washington Monument and other landmarks, creating memorable images.

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— Rebecca Trounson 

Picture: NASA jet. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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