Visual Approach

Final fly-by

November 1, 2012

space shuttle endeavour

Escorted by NASA F/A–18 chase airplanes, the space shuttle Endeavour flew to its Los Angeles retirement home in late September, piggybacked on top of a highly modified Boeing 747. NASA took a page from Hollywood for the final landing of the final shuttle, with high-profile, low-altitude flyovers over Edwards Air Force Base, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the iconic Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, and the Queen Mary. For its finale, the formation made a low pass over Los Angeles International Airport. Photographer Chad Slattery was waiting for it, on a 12-story building with a clear sightline along Runway 24L. A security guard snuck him onto the roof. Slattery used a Canon 100~400mm zoom lens mounted on a 7D camera for more flexibility. The image was made at an effective focal length of 376mm. In a stroke of luck, the chase planes accelerated past the 747 just as the formation flew into Slattery’s viewfinder, giving him one perfect frame.

Subject: Space Shuttle Endeavour, Boeing 747, and NASA F/A-18s

Where: Los Angeles, California

Photographer: Chad Slattery