Last week Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two crashed in the Mojave desert. One pilot died in the crash, another survived. Virgin Galactic is now absorbed with finding out exactly what happened and is posting regular updates about the crash on its Facebook page.
While the crash is a tragedy and setback for the ambitious program, it reminded me of one of the most spectacular flights I’ve ever taken.
On a bright spring day in 2011, Virgin America was celebrating the opening of its brand new Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport. In typical Virgin style, it was a big to-do. Richard Branson was there. So was Buzz Aldrin and his wife. California Lt Governor Gavin Newsom, too. There were also plenty of airport dignitaries and a handful of lucky media, like TravelSkills!
We all boarded a Virgin America jet for a joy ride over the Bay Area– We had been told that Virgin Galactic’s spaceship might show up, too, so there was plenty of anticipation about how this was going to work…and what we might see up there.
We took a spectacular spin over the city and bay, then buzzed the Farrallon Islands west of the city out in the Pacific Ocean. Then, all of a sudden, we were asked to peer out the left side of the plane to see the spaceship appear off the left wing. Over the PA system, a flight attendant told everyone to disregard the fasten seat belt sign, and get over to the left side of the plane to see “the future of space travel.”
Luckily, I was already seated behind the wing on the left side, so I had a bird’s eye view of the fantastic sight and captured as much as I could in photos and video. What a sight it was! We circled around over the Pacific, then flew in over the Golden Gate Bridge, over Alameda and approached SFO from the south to land in tandem. Wow! Enjoy the photos below.
Scroll down for photos & video of the spaceship’s visit to the Bay Area in 2011.
Look closely at the photos and you’ll see that there are 3 “fuselages” on the aircraft. The center one is the “space ship” and it detaches from the vehicle (known as “White Knight”). White Knight landed safely; the space ship crashed.
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Latest news: Crash investigation could take up to a year.
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