It was an extraordinary sight, even for Washington -- a space shuttle flying over the nation’s capital atop a modified 747 on the way to its permanent new home, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Crowds gathered on the National Mall, office workers peered out windows and motorists pulled to the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the retired Discovery orbiter, which made a sweep of the capital region, over the monuments, before landing at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.
"There was cheering and applause across the Mall,’’ someone tweeted on #spottheshuttle.
At the U.S. Capitol, Adrienne Watson, an aide to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), said that a cheer arose from the congressional staffers who ran outside to see it.
"Folks were pretty excited. It was a pretty special moment and a great show,’’ she said.
It was such an event that the Mid-Atlantic AAA issued a warning to motorists: "Don’t let anyone or anything — even a space shuttle overhead — distract you’’ and "For safe shuttle-spotting, pull off the road and park your car.’’