Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...

 Last week Mark and I got up disgustingly early to drive in rush hour traffic to downtown DC. On purpose. On our day off. I promise, we haven't lost our minds! (I'll also apologize right now for how many pictures are in this post, but I promise it's worth it!)

We're both training for a couple races - I'm running a half marathon in about a month and a half, and we're both running a full marathon this fall - so we decided to take advantage of the great weather and go for a run in downtown DC. We parked at West Potomac Park, just south of the Tidal Basin, and we were off! We ran past the Jefferson Memorial...
...the Washington Monument...
...and the Lincoln Memorial.
Since we were feeling a little ambitious, we decided to add some steps to our run to say hi to both Lincoln...
...and Jefferson.  :)
I always take my phone with when we run outside, and my Google tracker works great! I like how you can see where we ran up the steps of the monuments.   :)   Altogether, we ran just over 4.5 miles.
After a quick stop at the car, we grabbed our folding camp chairs and I grabbed my camera gear and we made our way back up to the National Mall...
...along with several thousand other people. What, you might be asking, could possibly draw this many people outside all at once?
The Space Shuttle Discovery flyby!!!!
Discovery was on its way to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles (its new home - can't wait to go see it!), but made a detour over DC first.
Mark had one of my cameras; most of his pictures are of me taking pictures.  :)
I loved how so many people piled out onto the tops of the buildings as the shuttle flew by.
This may be one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken.   :)
After flying several loops around the National Mall, Discovery and its T-38 escort disappeared off to the west. 
All that running and shuttle-watching made us hungry, so we stopped to grab some ridiculously tasty tacos on the way home. Oh baby, guacamole...mmm...   :)

It was amazing to get to see the shuttle in person on its last flight! However, a tiny part of me wished that I had been sitting on position to get the chance to work the flight. I mean, how many controllers can say they've worked the space shuttle? I wrote that off as one of those things that I'd never get to do and moved on. So when I walked into the ops room this past Friday morning and the supervisor pulled me aside to brief me before I sat down on the East departures, imagine my surprise when he handed me a flight strip and told me that the shuttle carrier would be departing shortly for New York, carrying Enterprise!! Shortly after I sat down, the supervisor briefly stopped my east departures, and almost simultaneously Air Force One departed Andrews AFB and the shuttle carrier departed Dulles. I got the president on course and sent him off to the Center as the shuttle carrier made the turn into my airspace. 

Best traffic call I've ever made: "traffic eleven o'clock, seven miles, east-bound, one one thousand, heavy Boeing 747 carrying the space shuttle". And it's possible that I'm the only controller ever that's had both the space shuttle and the president in their airspace at the same time. Priceless.   :)

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