Shuttle Endeavour flies over Hollywood sign, downtown L.A.
Cheers welcomed the space shuttle Endeavour as it flew over Los Angeles, as the retiring spacecraft passed over the Hollywood sign, thrilled crowds at the Santa Monica Pier and left children shrieking in delight.
A school playground at the California Science Center museum near downtown L.A. exploded in excitement as hundreds of children saw the shuttle overhead, and they screamed and ran, pointing, trying to chase the shuttle as it flew across the sky.
"That was awesome," said fifth-grader Yaslynn Thomas, who, awestruck, stared into the sky long after it was gone. Her school is on the campus of the Science Center museum, which will be the permanent home of Endeavour. "I never thought a space shuttle would ever come to a school. I Always thought it would go to a special space landing place."
"Just flew over my head!!!" tweeted actor Tom Hanks, who played Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell in a movie. "Don't see this everyday. Never will again. The Spaceman in me just went berserk."
At Santa Monica Pier, a crowd aimed phones at the sky as the Boeing 747 carrying Endeavour roared by.
“Wow. Amazing, amazing, amazing,” said Derek Johns, 41, of Los Angeles, as he snapped photos through his lens. Johns had never seen a space shuttle before despite being a retired member of the Air Force.
"It was worth every second," said Leon Flindt, who was in Santa Monica visiting from Denmark.A few minutes later, standing out against a blue railing just feet from the ocean, Ruth Sanchez turned around and was greeted by a pleasant surprise.
"Look at that!" she said as she clapped while jumping up and down. "Yeah!"
As the shuttle headed back over the ocean inland toward the city, the 55-year-old woman from Riverside County did a little dance, shaking her hips and singing, "I'm glad I didn't leave! I'm glad I didn't leave!"
Sanchez, a retired California Highway Patrol dispatcher, left her house at 3:45 a.m. to claim her spot with the fishermen along the rail of the pier. She wanted to be among the first in Southern California to see the shuttle.
"I've got a bad knee and back. I didn't care. I was going to be here for this," she said.
Sanchez said she gets emotional about all things space because, for her generation, TV brought shuttles like Endeavour into everyone's home, as America led the way.
"We led the space program, and the things they found out have helped people here on Earth," she said. "So to be able to spend five minutes to see this — it's just awesome."
She also said she was proud that California was getting its piece of history.
"I'm a native Californian, my partner is from Houston, and Houston didn't get it. They got a toy!"
Hundreds of people — many with cameras and tripods in tow — looked to the skies from the roofs and balconies of government buildings in downtown’s Civic Center. On the third floor of City Hall, the City Council suspended its meeting so that members could watch the flyover. And on the 27th floor, dozens of people offered oohs and ahs from the building’s crowded observation deck.
“It looked almost angelic to me,” said Lydia Charkhian, 54, of Glendale, who rushed from the south side of the observation deck to the east as it passed over the city. “It was like watching a dove in flight.”
“It was amazing, awesome … to be part of it, to be so close to it,” added Stephen Gingold, an employee in the city’s Finance Department who watched during his lunch break.
— Rosanna Xia at the California Science Center School, Matt Stevens in Santa Monica and David Zahniser at City Hall
Video: Stephanie Ferrell / Los Angeles Times.