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Shuttling Through the Years

Oct 16

In history at 11:06am

It ended as it began. And, for me, further proof, as if I needed any, that I’ve been shooting pictures for a long time. The shuttle Endeavor just got towed through the populous streets of LA, to it’s final viewing place at the California Science Museum. (The staff of the LA Times put together a terrific time lapse. Check it out here.) Back at the beginning, the shuttles were also towed, out in far more sparse areas, on their transits from being constructed and tested in Palmdale, over to Edwards AFB. I shot the first three launches and landings of the space shuttle program, staying at the Days Inn in Cocoa Beach, and listening to Shirl the Girl at the Mousetrap with my bud Hank Morgan. We’d then hightail it to Orlando Airport, fly to LA, pick up cars, and head for the desert, hoping the shuttle would stay aloft even longer than the planned mission, so we could accumulate more day rates. And, being that freelance day rates for magazine at that time were a whopping $250 a day, you needed to garner a bunch of those puppies just to stay afloat. So, we would fervently hope for bad weather, so the fellas up in space would just have to go around again a few dozen times before landing.

As the young guys here in the studio noted, neither of them were born when I made these pictures. They mentioned that one of these days soon I’ll end up in a museum. Of exactly what, I’m not sure. More tk….

JL Williams says:

on October 16, 2012 at 11:23 am

Heads up: That LA Times link has an extra “http://” at the start of it, which causes it to redirect to some skank domain reseller. Might want to edit…

William Beem says:

on October 16, 2012 at 11:24 am

The Mousetrap is, quite thankfully, closed. It used to be a great place to eat on the Space Coast, but it degenerated into a miserable experience for guests and staff alike.

I have no idea what happened to Shirl the Girl. Instead, I was listening to my brother’s band (Kickin’) while listening to a drunken astronaut candidate who called himself Major Disaster. He was upset that his theory to clean jet impellers in space was rejected.

Keith Winsor says:

on October 16, 2012 at 11:29 am

Hi Joe,
So correct me if I’m off base, but these seem a touch on the underexposed side, my assumption is that was done to convey the somber mood of the retirement. I like the results.
Am I over thinking or is my monitor dark? LOL


Carlos says:

on October 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

It looks like the link to the time lapse is incorrect as my browser is not able to find the server…

matt says:

on October 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for posting this Joe. I am jealous of all your adventures to say the least. Side note… there is a missing : after the Http in your link to the video.

Lucky says:

on October 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Joe, you’ll surly end up in a hall of fame… :) – Not a museum

DaveE says:

on October 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

The shuttle time-lapse link address is a little mangled. Here’s the correct link:

Thanks for the pointer…

Joe McNally says:

on October 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Fixed it! Thanks gang for pointing it out. The actual time lapse is really, really cool….best, Joe

Gerry Johnson says:

on October 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm

As young as you are you probably remember the song that starts with – “Chug a lug, Chug a lug; Grape wine in a mason jar………
One foot in front of the other – slowly!

Hannes Uys says:

on October 17, 2012 at 12:33 am

Looking at these one wonders what the future may hold.

Peter Kirring says:

on October 17, 2012 at 8:34 am

Hank Morgan link need a “:” too :-)
Correct link is

Sharna says:

on October 17, 2012 at 9:29 am

I actually live in Palmdale. Born and raised! Very awesome pictures!

Pete in San Diego says:

on October 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I was one of those ten year olds, in the second photo (all be it in Memphis TN), that was so enthralled with the Shuttle program. Was alert to every launch since then. Feel a hole in the stomach now it is gone.

Your photo captures the same wonder I had 30 years ago and carried into adulthood.

Never loose your sense of wonder: that is what keeps me an avid photographer and viewer of others work.

Thanks for capturing these Joe.

Mark says:

on October 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm

that’s the challenger !!!!

As a kid, I cried watching replays of that ill fated launch.

I also had a copy of Time when it was featured… It’s sad I lost it though. Good thing they still have it on archive at their website.

Christopher T. Murphy says:

on October 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

On a bitter cold January day, I took my family to see the piggybacked shuttle Enterprise on top of a 747 at Kanas City International Airport. My little girl was about 18 months old at the time. As a teen she saw the film “Apollo 13″ and determined to fly. She is now an Air Force pilot. That little girl flies a four engine heavy now. I am justifiably proud as her father but more so of her determination to set a path and see it through. The late, great, Neil Armstrong testified to Congress recently about the lack of determination this Administration has for seeing something through. The NASA team and family can be rightfully proud of the program they created and saw through to the end. Kudos to all those who put in the time and intelligence to make this all fly. Thanks for the memories, Joe. You captured, and continue to chronicle, the American Spirit.

Jordan says:

on October 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm

These are some amazing shots. I really want to go see this. I’m loving your blog by the way! Keep it up. Cheers!

Kayla says:

on November 1, 2012 at 8:59 pm

A sad day for Houston. I sat in hours worth of traffic and walked from one side of Ellington to the complete other end (thanks to an officer directing traffic to park on the wrong side of the airport) just to arrive with 10 min till they closed the gate on the viewing of Endeavour. All of Houston was sad to see it leave. We wish it could have stayed here at NASA. I dont know the details as to how what shuttle ended up where, but Houston was sure sad to see it keep going.

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