Space shuttle Endeavour flyover: Police fear 'gawking and driving'
The space shuttle Endeavour's Friday flyover has brought a new set of concerns for Los Angeles authorities: "gawking and driving."
The retired shuttle will tour the Southland for about an hour Friday morning before landing at Los Angeles International Airport, flying 1,500 feet over landmarks including the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, the Queen Mary and Disneyland.
But amid all the excitement, officials are worried that overzealous onlookers might stop their cars along freeways or city streets to snap photos. In other cities, shuttle flyovers have drawn huge crowds.
"Drinking and driving, texting and driving, gawking and driving -- they all result in distracted driving," said Lauren Wonder, a Caltrans spokeswoman, at a media conference this week.
Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Scott Kroeber urged eager onlookers to arrive at their viewing spots early.
"Obviously we want people to take in this majestic show," Kroeber said. "But if you're driving, please drive and don't try to take in the show simultaneously. We don't want this to be the mother of all distracted driving incidents."
California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Calvin Aubrey said extra officers will be deployed in the 405 Freeway corridor to ensure that traffic continues without disruption during the flyover.
"Hopefully we can have the public's cooperation in not taking their eyes off the road and focusing forward," he said. "It's a hard thing to do when you look up and see a space shuttle."
Extra security will be also be in place at LAX to prevent loiterers, said Michael Feldman of Los Angeles World Airports. The shuttle is expected to reach Los Angeles airspace about 11:30 a.m. Friday and touch down about an hour later.
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-- Kate Mather
Photo: The space shuttle Endeavour drew a crowd of photographers when it arrived at Edwards Air Force Base on Thursday afternoon. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times