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Endeavour brings crowds to O.C. coast, but its route disappoints

PHOTOS: Space shuttle Endeavour arrives

Hundreds who gathered on and around the Huntington Beach pier in anticipation of space shuttle Endeavour’s flyover of the Orange County coast left disappointed.

“It’s a bust,” said Huntington Beach resident Joe Giordano.

Giordano said he thought about staying home but decided to go to the pier for what he thought would be the best view.

Endeavour made its rounds in Southern California atop a Boeing 747 aircraft; and although it was visible about 12:30 p.m. to those on the pier, its path was more inland.

PHOTOS: Endeavour's Southland flyover | PANORAMA: Endeavour arrives at LAX

“It was close but not close enough,” said Char Austero of Newport Beach, who said she got to the Huntington Beach Pier earlier in the day for a good spot. “We drove over in the morning with our coffee to come watch it. It’s a beautiful day. It was fun because of the people, but it’s disappointing because we couldn’t see it.”

Still, the moment people got a glimpse of the shuttle, cheers filled the air and spectators moved en masse to grab one last look, take pictures or record it with their cameras.

The lucky ones were those who decided to stake out a spot near the Boeing campus on Bolsa Chica Street. Endeavour was much more visible to the couple of hundred people there, said resident Julie Bixby.

FULL COVERAGE: Endeavour's final journey to L.A.

“The word I kept hearing was 'amazing,' and that about sums it up -- amazing,” she said, adding that Endeavour flew pretty close to where they were.

Bixby, 45, said she considers the space shuttle her program and has always been a fan. She said she had been fortunate enough to watch a couple of landings.

“When you’re there in person to experience it, it just goes through your body and it’s super, super cool,” Bixby said.

READER PHOTOS: Space shuttle Endeavour

Yorba Linda resident Suzanne Hobbs, 54, watched in 1992 as Endeavour took off for its first mission from Florida, she said. On Friday, she went to the pier to watch it on its last flight.

“I saw the beginning and now I want to see the end,” she said.

It just so happens that Friday was the fourth anniversary of Justin Prior's death from brain cancer, said his friend Dave Fox, 38, a Huntington Beach resident.

Fox goes to the pier every year along with Prior's parents and friends to place flowers in his memory at the place he loved: the beach.

Prior, who was 32 when he died, taught Fox how to surf when he was just 13.

With flowers in hand, Fox said Friday’s flyover made this year’s anniversary even more special. It gave him the opportunity to show Prior's 4-year-old daughter, Kayla, 4, a piece of heaven.

“I'm going to try to explain to his daughter that the space shuttle goes to heaven, where daddy is,” Fox said.

Friday was also Paige Bantz’s second birthday. Although she isn’t likely to remember it, her parents Katherine and Shawn Bantz said they wanted to make sure she experienced it because when she's old enough, all of this will only be stuff she'll read in the history books.

“We are hoping she’ll be able to say that she was here for the final landing,” Katherine Bantz said.


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-- Mona Shadia, in Orange County

Photo: Endeavour, mounted on NASA's Boeing 747, flies over Anaheim en route to the Orange County coastline. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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