Space Shuttle Discovery Makes Historic Landing in Washington

Space Shuttle Discovery

Days when the national news like CNN and Fox News actually cover something for more than a 3 minutes sound bite seems to be the huge exception to the rule today. That is, unless, there is actually something going on live they can’t manipulate into a proper commercial break spot. Lately I have come to loathe the repetition of information on the news and documentary-reality shows. This morning was one of those non-stop coverage points for the historic landing of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and an end to a space program, really the only one I have ever known in my lifetime.

Since this is really the only space program I have ever known in my life, it has been sad to me to see it being dismantled over the last 12 months, but I’m sure they know what they are doing and it’s time to move on. Being an average objective observer of the program over the last 30 plus years I certainly can’t offer any inside knowledge for anything NASA, I will just miss watching something I have known since I could was old enough to know what a rocket was. Discovery had a beautiful landing this morning on the back of that giant NASA Boeing 747SP-21 (see some pics here). Ben Cooper over on Airliners.net captured a great sunrise shot of the departing N905NA / 376 (cn 20107/86) captioned saying: “Farewell, Discovery! Shuttle Discovery departs Florida for the final time in history at sunrise, atop NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, bound for the Smithsonian in Washington DC.” Well said.

Air Force One on Takeoff for Tuesday’s Election

The photo of the day today is a shot I took of Air Force One on it’s takeoff run at Las Vegas McCarran Airport a while back.  With the elections taking place tomorrow I thought this would be an appropriate shot, but we are also trying to get to a place where we can watch the Space Shuttle launch tomorrow as well, so it served two purposes today.  If we get to the Space Coast I will post some photos on Twitter and here, but I am sure we won’t get as close to the shuttle as I was able to get here with AF1.  For additional aviation photos you can check out some of my shots at http://www.planephoto.net as well.

Air Force One Photos and Obama's Inauguration

Air Force One in Las Vegas

Continental Boeing 777

British Airways Boeing 747

Some of you may not know that I was once (and still in a different way) an aviation nut, buff, fanatic, whatever you want to call it.  I did get my private pilot’s license, and I did work for and was hired by several airlines earlier in my life/career.  One of my most favorite types of photography that I ever attempted was aviation photography (made almost impossible after 9-11).  I started while I was still shooting film and moved into digital SLR’s to enhance my aviation photography.

Air Force One is probably one of the most recognized aircraft in the entire world.  I love the plane and have been to Boeing field north of Seattle to see the older Boeing 707 that Nixon and Kennedy flew on as President.  That plane is no longer in Washington state (I think it is now in the Smithsonian), but even at 30-40 years old it still evoked feelings of pride in a country that is still one of the only countries in the world that has a fleet of aircraft for its leader.

I use to watch Tony Blair get on a commercial British Airways 747 and think what a disgrace to put the Prime Minister on a commercial aircraft but I guess it did save quite a bit of money for the British people, but didn’t do a thing to create an iconic air force fleet like we did with the Presidential aircraft.

One of my favorite shots I ever took was a shot of this British Airways Boeing 747 about to take off for London in the middle of a storm with a Boeing 777 landing right in front of it (if you look at the close up, you can see the Continental B-777 at the end of the runway in front of the BA 747).  It was no different than any commercial BA flight that Tony Blair would have flown on if he was in Houston at the time.

I can’t really recall a time in history when the press or anyone else questioned when, why, or how, we used the military fleet like they are now.  For good reason, it costs a heck of a lot more to fly the military fleet than a commercial flight, but even so, I would never want to see Mr Obama get on a commercial flight while he is still in office.  Now that Air Force One is officially part of the Obama administration, it has been taken for a ride, and because of the economy, more and more people are starting to question why we are spending money in ways that just isn’t necessary any more.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

This week, Mr Obama flew Air Force One to Colorado and Arizona just for the sake of signing a bill.  As far as everyone can tell, the estimated cost for Obama to fly to Arizona (don’t know about the Colorado trip) on Air Force One to sign the so-called stimulus bill was about $700,000.  $700,000 for a flight that didn’t have to take place to sign a bill to spend $787 billion.  So I guess just a drop in the bucket compared to $787 billion, so who cares.

Well, the very next thing Obama said was that American’s needed to start living within their means and at the same time he told us to turn down our thermostats.  We have officially entered the “do as I say, not as I do” time.