Hitching a ride on top a special NASA Boeing 747 jet, the space shuttle Discovery soars past Capitol Hill in Washington, after a flight from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, April 17.
The space shuttle Discovery has landed for the last time, bringing an end to the shuttle's lengthy and storied tenure. Residents from all over the D.C. area observed the shuttle as it completed a series of flyovers attached to the back of a Boeing 747 and escorted by a jet fighter, before landing at Dulles Airport en route to its final respecting place at Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center.
Hundreds of people gathered on the National Mall to observe the final flight against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky, cottony clouds, bright sunshine and the hallowed monuments.
One of those spectators, Brad, brought his daughter, Paige, and son, Andrew, out to see the sight. "It was pretty incredible," Brad said. "It's amazing seeing a machine like that fly. I remember seeing the original shuttle landing at Dulles in 1985; I pulled off the road to see it, I was so surprised. I had to come out and share that experience with my kids today."
Added Andrew: "It was pretty interesting, I've never seen anything like it."
Other spectators, like a teary-eyed Marly Klymer, had a more emotional reaction. For her, seeing Discovery sent her on a bittersweet journey in time.
"I wish my father could be here today," said Klymer. "When I was young, I lived in northern Indiana, and he drove us all out in a station wagon to a dark field. And we lay on a blanket late at night, and he said 'There it is. There is Sputnik — the first man-made object in space — and we are seeing it, and we are so lucky to be alive at this moment.' From then on, I've always felt a great admiration for these moving moments in technology."
Kayvan Farchadi's journey was far shorter. He dashed from one of the federal office buildings nearby so he could watch Discovery as it circled the Lincoln memorial, the Washington monument and the Capitol: "I think it's as much a piece of our history as those monuments are as well, and it's as much a testament of what the U.S. can be