Some of us have our big geek dreams about witnessing history (uh, the good kind of history, not the 9/11 kind...). And how cool is it to know that you will have the chance to witness history on a particular day, at a particular time?
Some time in the mid-80s, in my first year of college, I think, my father told me that he'd been in DC on business one day, driving on the Beltway (= giant parking lot that circles the City). He happened to look up, and saw the unlikely and completely amazing sight of the space shuttle riding piggy-back on a 747 on its way to (or was it from?) Dulles Airport.
That image etched itself into my mind, as one of those dreams. One of those incredible things I hoped to see for myself one day.
And, as my dream of flying in the Concorde died with the retirement of the entire Concorde program and its fleet, I felt the shuttle dream slipping away as well.
Until a year ago, when I heard the news.
How lucky we would be, having the Shuttle Discovery come to its final resting place at Dulles Airport's Udvar Hazy Center when the shuttle program dissolved? With its location a mere 10 minutes from our house, it would be a near certainty that we'd be able to view it on its last airborne trip, hitch-hiking its last ride on a 747.
For some reason I thought it would be last summer. I was so disappointed last July when I read an article that said I had to wait nearly a whole year until my chance. I hoped and hoped that the flight path to the airport would take it over our house, as so many planes on their descent do.
Last month I finally saw the actual date and time of the final flight, the realization of my dream. I put it on my calendar, and notified my bosses that I would be in late that day. April 17th. I counted down the days.
Until I realized that I was an integral, and critical part of a HUGE customer event being held this very. same. week.
And so, holding my breath, I found someone to cover me for an hour yesterday morning (so I told them I'd be back in 2 minutes...).
And I ran to the roof of the parking deck on the hotel where the event was being held.
And, armed with the ever-so-dreamy Nikon D7000 I was borrowing from a co-worker to photograph the 2-day work event, I geeked out with about 20 others (although we could see about a hundred more stationed on nearby rooftops), watching, waiting, listening.
And, while there was no direct fly-over for my location, being just a couple of miles from the plane's final resting place made it a pretty good bet we'd have at least some sort of view.
And we did.
The red-brick building in the foreground on the right is my office building, about 3 blocks from my rooftop spot. (D7000, remember?) Dulles Airport is out of view to the left. The shuttle was on its way to the location where the two bottom photos were taken (from the school yard behind my house) by Steve, using my own camera.
Below, the shuttle making its final approach into Dulles Airport. I lost sight of it moments later as it dipped below the treeline.
So I can now happily, contentedly, cross this dream off my list. While the people in the District and its immediate surrounding area got an up-close-and-personal view, I'm not complaining. It was everything I'd hoped it would be.