Space Shuttle Discovery Performs Final Flyover

by Katie Pyzyk April 17, 2012 at 10:37 am 7,402 44 Comments

(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) The space shuttle Discovery made its final rounds today, flying over Arlington on its way to Dulles International Airport.

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft had Discovery attached to its back, and made a number of passes over the area, before heading to Dulles.

Spectators trying to catch a glimpse snarled traffic on many of the major thoroughfares in Arlington, including I-395, I-66 and Rte 110. Many drivers scrambling to find a spot left cars parked in tow away zones, on shoulders or on lawns in their haste. Police appeared to be temporarily lenient during the once-in-a-lifetime event, as long as the traffic violations didn’t harm public safety. Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said that with all of the people filtering in the streets to watch the shuttle, pedestrian safety was the top priority.

Hundreds of people showed up to the Marine Corps Memorial and Netherlands Carillon in Rosslyn. During the second flyover, spontaneous rounds of “The Star Spangled Banner” broke out.

Discovery is scheduled to be moved from Dulles to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Thursday, where it will go on public display.

  • Mike

    So great.

  • novasteve

    I really really wish I brought my SLR today. argh!!!!!!!!!!!

  • justlurking

    Awesome picture, ArlNow! I saw it making its final descent to Dulles. Historic.

  • JB

    Mommy! Whats that one plane doing to that other plane?

    • BoredHouseWife

      haha! Right under it on the gw parkway. It was awesome

  • CrystalMikey

    Should’ve stayed at home this morning…saw nothing out at my job site in Fairfax. 🙁

  • Picture envy….

    If anyone would like to view some panicky picture and videos with poor framing taken without exception after the best opportunity had passed, I’ll upload them.

    The shuttle only flew over my frickin head three times. Geeez!!

    • BlueSkies

      🙂 I can sympathize – but just think. You got to experience a very cool thing! And there are tons of good pics floating around out there that you can save to remember it by.

      • CW

        Digital has killed photography. At some point people are just going to realize that everything they shoot, 10 million other people have. I’m going to stop taking pictures on vacations and just reference others’ flickr accounts…only half joking…

        • ShirliMan

          Most at my office were at the window trying to take pictures with their phones. I opted to just watch and enjoy the moment..

          • CW

            And don’t call me “Shirli”.

  • brendan

    great shot….

    bad day for me to misplace the 70-210 but looks like you all got some amazing pics.

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    Awesome. I know some classes at Glebe were going to be held outside from 10-11 to give the kids a chance to see it – I hope they did!

  • WeiQiang

    Very good pics from ArlNow. Thx.

    • Thanks, everybody!

      • Juanita de Talmas

        No get over to Lubber Run and photograph that fox/coyote.

        • Juanita de Talmas


  • Transplant

    Saw it landing from Reston Town Center!

  • HayCaramba

    this was LEGEN – wait for it and i hope you’re not lactose intolerant, DARY

  • RCW

    Anyone know what type of plane the smaller escort was?

    • FrenchyB

      It’s a T-38 Talon trainer.

    • Frank

      It is a T-38 that looks like it has NASA tail markings. Probably from Wallops.

      • WeiQiang


        • Arlingtoon

          It looked like a little dart next to the 747.

    • From IAD

      Fun fact: at the end of the flight after the 747/orbitor had landed, the T-38 requested a quick landing as it was reaching minimum fuel levels. Wasn’t out of fuel by any means, but was getting to the point that if something happened to Dulles, it may not make it to the next closest airport (I assume that would’ve been Andrews)

      • Bob the Builder

        It probably could have landed at Manassas and certainly could have gone into DCA.

      • sitruc

        The T-38’s fuel level was “critical” mostly because the SCA took a few detours and made sure to give as many people as possible a good show. That was funny to listen to though.

  • DarkHeart

    With all those people walking around AFM, how much ground shifted out of place?

  • Scott

    Nice shots

  • LOVE IT.

    I agree – stunning photographs Arlnow.

    Saw it from my office building. Our High rise has a great panoramic view of DC and the shuttle flew near us a few times. We were not as close as folks by the Potomac, but we still have a terrifc view of everything.

    I am sad to think it will not fly again and our space program is now gone 🙁

    • Zoning Victim

      According to NASA’s budget, we still have a space program.

  • dk

    I love that pic of the washington monument. Great job!

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    A big thumbs-up and thank you to NASA for putting on a show with the extra laps!

  • Caz

    More pics, here’s mine! not taken from arlington, when i heard that it was 30min early I had to scrap my plans…


    • drax

      Nicely done!

    • Helen

      Very good! Thanks.

    • Suz

      Nice photos, Caz. I love the one with the two workers in the scaffolding of Lady of Freedom, Capitol.

  • R. Griffon

    Excellent pictures, ARLNow (and contributors, incl. Caz above). Wouldn’t mind having full-rez of some of those.

    I watched from the side of the road out at Dulles. It was awesome, although probably not as good as from Iwo or the AF Memorial. Shoulda stayed home.

  • Michael H.

    Very cool day! And great pictures on this post. I shot some pictures too but I only have 10X optical zoom on my camera. I did manage to get a couple decent video clips. My inner space geek was on full display today.

  • BlueLoom

    I was in a yoga class in a studio on the second floor of a building on Rte 7 in Falls Church. The fly-by went straight down Rte 7 at about 5 or 6 min after 10:00. We felt as if we could have reached out the window & touched it. An extra and very special Zen moment in yoga class. 🙂

    • DarkHeart

      I wonder if it flew over John Glenn’s old house in Arlington?

  • replytothat

    thanks for the great pics!

  • LuLu

    Thanks for the pix! I saw it fly over Old Town Alexandria twice, and have really bad video! But, I saw it. That’s the good part!

  • alrimprovements

    It flew right in front of my house! I was working from home and had a perfect view…heard the roar and ran outside. So cool!


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