In its two passes over Santa Monica, shuttle Endeavour delighted thousands of locals and tourists, from the simply curious to the space geeks, who cheered and applauded for both flyovers about noon Friday.
"To see one fly around for real? That's pretty cool," said Santa Monica resident Acshay Dhalwala who stood watching with his mom, Bharti, at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier.
Dhalwala said he had been waiting for the moment for a year and a half, when he first heard the shuttle would be permanently housed at the California Science Center.
They were among the thousands who packed the pier and lined the bluffs to get a glimpse of the shuttle mounted atop a modified Boeing 747 and escorted by F-16s.
But the onlookers with the best views were probably those parasailing just north of the pier.
The shuttle departed Edwards Air Force Base, near the border of Los Angeles and Kern counties, at 8:17 a.m. It made flyovers of Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area before circling toward the Southland.
Space Shuttle Endeavour Lands in Los Angeles
The shuttle took a circuitous tour of Los Angeles, flying over Malibu to the Santa Monica Pier then to downtown Los Angeles and the California Science Center in Exposition Park, which will ultimately be the shuttle's retirement home. The piggy-backed aircraft circled over the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, Getty Center, the Rose Bowl and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena before flying south to Disneyland and back to Long Beach.
It dipped to 1,500 feet to give the public a better view. At each site, throngs of people cheered and furiously shot photos with cameras and cell phones.
— City news Service contributed to this report.