Houston, Park Slopers have spotted The Enterprise.
In order to see the retired space shuttle Enterprise fly over New York City on Friday, Park Slope residents went to gather with hundreds of other Brooklynites to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
Michael Ring, a Park Slope resident and the vice president of the Prospect Park Track Club, organized a run to the Promenade from Grand Army Plaza to witness the rare sight of The Enterprise, piggybacked on top of a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), fly around New York City.
Ring said that the track club always meets at Prospect Park to discuss where they are going to run. Sometimes they run to Manhattan, sometimes they run to Ikea, and once they ran to New Jersey, but on Friday, their destination was a no brainer:
“It’s self evident, it’s the thing to do today,” Ring said while standing at Grand Army Plaza before their run to see The Enterprise, which . “We run to see weird and strange things every time, but today we were able to connect our run to a historic event.”
Hundreds of Brooklynites flooded the Promenade, elbowing each other for a good spot to see the space shuttle fly over the Statue of Liberty. It’s course went past the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where the shuttle will eventually be housed, up to the George Washington Bridge and then made a U-turn to go to John F. Kennedy International Airport where it will be stored until it goes on display at the Intrepid.
But as Friday marked a historic sighting, for some it also marked the end of an era of space exploration Americans have prided themselves on even before NASA put a man on the moon in 1969.
“The American dream of going to space has died,” said Tom Zombek, who is a member of the Metropolitan Wargamers of New York which has its headquarters in Park Slope, while taking pictures of the shuttle as it flew past. “Today symbolizes that.”
A former Park Slope resident, Lorcan Folan, echoed Zombek’s sentiment.
“Seeing the retired shuttle is a historic event, a particular era of space travel has ended,” Folan said while standing on the Promenade. “I was excited to see the shuttle, but it’s a mixture of excitement and sadness that it’s over.”
Zombek reminded bystanders that although space travel will now be privatized and The Enterprise will become a museum piece on the Intrepid, that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“It’s the only time a shuttle will fly over New York,” Zombek said, who is also a photographer and took pictures of The Concord when it took off from JFK a couple of years ago.
And as the shuttle flew by the Statue of Liberty on its way to the George Washington Bridge, then to make a U-turn at the Tappan Zee to fly past the Promenade again, Christina Woolston, also a Park Slope resident, said she was happy she took time to see the space shuttle.
“It’s not everyday that a space ship comes to New York City,” Woolston said.
After it was all said and done, Woolston said that she felt lucky.
“It’s cool that New York had such a part of history that we got to experience The Enterprise,” she said while standing with a group of friends from Park Slope.
The aerial show impressed Zombek while his eyes were behind the lens of his Canon EOS 30D. “It was short, but sweet,” He said. “It went boom, boom and it was over.”
Michael Ring, who organized the Prospect Park Track Club’s run to the Promenade, said that watching The Enterprise fly at an altitude of 1,000 to 3,000 feet was in the top two greatest things he saw during a PPTC run.
“It was kinda cool. I was lucky to be here. It was one of the best things we’ve seen during our runs,” Ring said, explaining that they ran to Manhattan in January 2009 when the US Airways jetliner made an emergency landing into the Hudson River. “New Yorkers take a lot of things for granted. But you got to enjoy things like this.”
To see more pictures, taken by Windsor Terrace-Kensington Patch editor, Lauren Evans from the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, .