Watching the space shuttle Endeavour, and its modified 747 carrier aircraft, followed by two sexy escort fighter jets soar in a low altitude flyover, became a community event. I met people in my neighborhood I had never seen before, many who had lived here for years, all now buddybuddy, warm and fuzzy, spending over an hour in the hot sun catching up on lives never before encountered. Very cool.
But how could tons of cold steel, bolts and widgets get people to come together? I'm sure most of them have a cursory interest in science, while interest in technology means being on a first name basis with the Genius at the Bar, and have a respectful reverence for NASA, but watching Endeavour sparked a heightened sense of the fantastic, the realization of possibilities, and as Mike Cassidy, in his post on Siliconbeat, wrote that "Endeavour flyover might inspire next Steve Jobs" Let's hope it does.
As the flight neared, preceded by a gutterul roar of engines, Endeavour emerged from the horizon, piggyback, on the larger, maternalistic 747. Surprisingly, it appeared vulnerable, dependent, like a baby on a mother's back. Anthropomorphized. We were parents welcoming back our baby that had been to places so faraway and done things so heroic we could only cheer in amazement.
You know those cute pictures of a baby chimp on its mother's back? Adorable. But see a picture of the mother alone...not so adorable. And baby alone? Cute but not so adorable in quite the same way. So it was with Endeavour. If you had seen Endeavour fly by alone, it would have been exciting but not as electrifying. In a wonderful way, Endeavour - and what an enchanting name - brought us a human connection that reminded us of our own unrealized possibilities, a moment of hope and an hour with our neighbors.
Til the next time, Thank You, NASA! May your budget be increased and not cut as proposed by the wicked Congress. Keep the spirit of adventure alive!