Shuttle Endeavour: Picture perfect over San Francisco, Golden Gate
The space shuttle Endeavour flew over a sunny San Francisco, gliding over the cranes at the Port of Oakland, the glittering waters of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Endeavour, riding atop a 747, passed the Golden Gate Bridge twice, thrilling crowds of pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge's sidewalk. A crowd of adults and children had their cellphones and snapshot cameras aimed at the skies when Endeavour appeared as a dot, coming in from the southeast about 10:15 a.m.
By 10:22, Endeavour came back for a second pass, coursing closer and lower and buzzing the bridge. As the sound of the plane's engines drowned out the traffic on the bridge and tourists ran to get the best vantage point, screams of "Whooo!" could be heard as the shuttle flew over the suspension bridge.
"It was unbelievable. Did you hear all the clapping? I can't even believe we're here!" said Polly Lestikow, of Centennial, Colo., who just happened to be bicycling across the bridge Friday morning, unaware of NASA's planned show Friday.
The much feared fog was gone by the time Endeavour flew by the Golden Gate.
It was worth the wait, after a few antsy moments on the Golden Gate Bridge.
The parking lots on the San Francisco side of the bridge had filled by 8:30. Vista point was lined with people shortly thereafter. Bridge bicyclists stopped on the graceful span as traffic whizzed by.
At around 9:40, Endeavour watchers spotted a plane above the bridge. Cameras swung toward it, just in case.
"False alarm," mourned cyclist Les Lockspeiser, who lives in Denver. "Wayward plane. United Airlines screwing us again."
From the Bay Area, Endeavour was headed south to Monterey and then to Los Angeles.
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— Maria L. La Ganga at the Golden Gate Bridge
Photo: Space shuttle Endeavour flies on top of a modified 747 jumbo jet over the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.