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Space shuttle Endeavour wows Venice Beach spectators during farewell flyover

Space shuttle Endeavour surprised Venice Beach spectators by flying over the famous tourist destination twice.
Space shuttle Endeavour surprised Venice Beach spectators by flying over the famous tourist destination twice.
News Archives International/Andrew Hanna

Somewhere over the rainbow in the distant future, Aaron Hanna will take his son or daughter to the California Science Center, where NASA's retired space shuttle Endeavour will remain on display for more than two centuries.

Even at age 16 months, Aaron Hanna's mother said her toddler is already showing signs of becoming a scientist one day, hopefully for NASA.
News Archives International

He'll point up to the imperialistic orbiter and tell his offspring a true story about the picture-perfect day his doting mother and innovative father took him to the Venice Beach pier to bid farewell to the beloved spacecraft that completed a total of 25 honorable missions before it was placed to final rest.

Aaron will describe how his dad, with lively interest and controlling possession of the mind, captured by memory and high-tech photography, a thumb-printed leaf of American history that took place on Autumn's eve.

He may talk about how the majesty of the distant Santa Monica Mountains and azure sky created an ideal backdrop for the highly-anticipated arrival of Endeavour, as it rode piggyback atop a modified 747 that sliced like a butter knife through a thin curtain of wispy clouds and dissipating fog hovering over the Pacific Ocean's serenity.

But that time remains a long way off because Aaron, the son of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) lead test engineer Andrew Hanna, is only 16 months old.

The bright-eyed boy, with an easy smile and vigorous personality, was among hundreds at Venice Beach who witnessed firsthand one of the shuttle's many low and slow flyovers throughout the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area as it made its way to Los Angeles International Airport, where it will be groomed for a two-day street parade, starting October 12.

Until then, few can dispute the metallic fact that Endeavour was victorious in its dramatic effort to impress emotionally-charged spectators, some of whom skipped school and work to offer a polite bow to the spacecraft that still bore battle scars from its 299 days in the heavens.

Photographers, including Aaron's dad, trained their cameras as Endeavour suddenly appeared from a northern ghostly mist over the ocean, turning eastwardly to fly over sunbathers who had crowded the sandy shoreline.

To everyone's delight, the ship made an encore performance, this time ascending over the ocean before exiting stage right.

From cheers of exhilaration, cries of joy and screams of gratitude, an angelic voice rose from the cacophony of unified reverence.

It was Aaron's.

This cherub summed up his close encounter with Endeavour in a universal expression of kindness.

He smiled, waved and simply said, "Hi."

And if the pilot or co-pilot had a chance to look down onto the sea of venerating fans and self-described space geeks at Venice Beach welcoming Endeavour back home to California and to the City of Angels, they would have seen little Aaron sporting an official NASA T-shirt that advertised more than a message; it promoted an echoing dream.

His shirt read: "Future Rocket Scientist."


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