We Had An Incredible Inside View Of The Shuttle Docking In NYC


Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

When the USS Intrepid announced it would house the decommissioned space shuttle Enterprise there was no doubt BI Military & defence would be there.The only question was how and where to watch the historical event. This was answered while travelling aboard the USS Wasp when a roommate offered to have me on board the Intrepid as his guest when the shuttle arrived. 

I accepted, and my buddy proved true to his word. He met me outside the museum yesterday morning and gave me a view of the process I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Even with his help, running around to get the best view was an ordeal—but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

We got to the Intrepid 90 minutes before the Enterprise was scheduled to arrive — as always it was packed with school kids

At that time workers were still laboring over the frame of the structure that would house the Enterprise

After waiting around for a while, the action started. This $27 million FDNY ship—the country's largest fire boat—was the first thing to grab our attention

Up the river to the left were the shuttle and one of the world's largest cranes

Beneath the darkening clouds the floating shuttle was quite a sight

But down here on the ground we stood to lose our view

So we headed back on deck to scout out better spots

We settled on the fly bridge overlooking the water—the VIP viewing area

The view from here was excellent. Check out that yellow boat belonging to the US Army Corps of Engineers

From the side we saw the crane slip alongside the Intrepid

This close I had to use a wide-angle lens to catch the tug nudging the crane into place

With nothing yet to do, some of the crane workers checked out the Intrepid and all the people taking pictures of them

On the other side of the crane, reporters broadcast and eagerly waited on the Enterprise

Overall it was quite the spectacle

It took another 45 minutes or so for the Enterprise to find its way alongside the crane and position itself for the lift

Even the guys on the crane got out cameras and started taking pictures

No doubt, it was pretty cool seeing the shuttle so close

It looked like this was one assignment everyone wanted to get in on

And then my friend got a call from someone on one of these boats inviting us aboard

So I said goodbye to the shuttle and headed off shore

The view from here was outstanding — but now it was a 90 minute wait while the crew setup the shuttle for its big final step

With a few minutes to kill we ran out to the Statue of Liberty

Up to the Brooklyn Bridge

And by the time we got back — the Enterprise looked ready to go

But it was not — hadn't moved an inch — and the only action was those guys on top hauling some chains for what seemed like forever

So police herded boats away as the wake disturbed the crane and we waited

The wait was so long that the people with the boat had to be somewhere else — so we headed back ashore and up to the deck of the Intrepid

The VIP contingent had been moved up here on deck and the press were corralled in over to the right

The view from up here was not bad — those two pillars that stood so tall before were now buried into the riverbed stabilizing the crane as it latched onto the shuttle

A ranking Intrepid staffer told us the crane crew was being extra cautious with all the cameras and attention, which is why it took so long for the shuttle to finally get lifted up

The crowd on the other dock cheered — the cranes engine amped up — and the winches made the most horrible screeching noise

But it was surprising once it was started — how quickly the Enterprise settled over its new home

Workers helped settle the landing gear on the Intrepid's deck and people around us made jokes about making sure their toes were out of the way

And then it was down and with a couple solid whacks from a sledgehammer the rear wheels were locked into place

And then the legs propping up the front settled down as well — the wait was finally over — and we made it home just in time to avoid the rain

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