In a city where what flies over the National Mall and adjacent landmarks is highly restricted to mainly the President, tomorrow will bring a remarkable exception: a low-to-the-ground flyover by the Space Shuttle Discovery, riding piggy-back on a 747. Discovery, the oldest and most flown of the shuttle fleet, will be on its way to its retirement home at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center, where it will go on permanent exhibition beginning Friday morning.
A spokeswoman at the Air & Space Museum conceded that Tuesday's event is "all about the weather." Isabel Lara said there will be a 5 am meeting of NASA officials to determine if the weather is favorable at the take-off point, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the landing-point, Dulles Airport, which connects to Udvar-Hazy. Right now conditions look good.
While NASA won't release precise route or time information, they will say the "window" is between 10 and 11 am. The 747 will fly at an elevation of only 1,500 feet.
The best sites for viewing the flyover are:
Lara said she hopes people will "take a coffee break" to get outside for the event. We hope so, too, and that you'll take cameras, in whatever form. Please send us your best photos at email@example.com or upload them to Flickr and tag The Washingtonian. We'll post the best shots here tomorrow after the flyover.
Also, the Air & Space Museum has set up a Twitter link at #spottheshuttle.