Space Shuttle Victory Lap

by George Murphy on September 21, 2012

The space shuttle Endeavour took to the air one last time today, riding piggyback atop a NASA modified Boeing 747 airplane, as it took a final “victory lap” around the the state of California. Endeavour left Edwards Air Force Base just North of L.A. this morning, making it’s way first to the Sacramento area and then West over the San Francisco Bay Area, offering a never-before-seen opportunity for Northern California residents and visitors. The unusual air-ship configuration eventually headed back south to Los Angeles International Airport. From there it will be transported on the ground to the California Science Center where it will be on display as part of a permanent exhibit.

I headed out at 5 a.m. to find a spot west of the Golden Gate Bridge, that I hoped would afford me views of the shuttle strapped 747 with San Francisco as a backdrop. My high angle perch overlooking the Bay from the hills of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area turned out to be just the right spot for some spectacular views of the aircraft and escort planes as Endeavour made two dramatic passes over the Golden Gate area. The first was almost right on top of us making for some great close-ups. The second was a “thread-the’needle” run straight over the Golden Gate Bridge that couldn’t have been any more perfect, despite some threatening fog that held back just long enough to give us a clear view that no one is likely to forget anytime soon.

These are some initial images. Look for an update to this post with a few more images over the weekend.







Technical Notes:
I shot with a Canon EOS-1D X using a Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 IS L Sseries lens. I wanted to keep my options open for cropping (not knowing for sure how close the Shuttle and 747 would fly past) so I opted for a low ISO of 160. As always, I aimed to compose in camera, but with something like this, there’s usually some composition tuning I want to do.



One response to “Space Shuttle Victory Lap”

  1. Realy great photos. Thank you so much, Stan

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