I have a friend who is enamored of planes and space ships and things with big engines that soar and fly and circle the stratosphere. This past weekend he and I spent several hours wandering through the Udvar-Hazy air and space museum ogling the evolution of manned and unmanned flight from the earliest of attempts up through the space program and military gadgets of today.
Thanks to his extreme knowledge and passion I got a personal and in-depth tour and explanation of nearly all the vehicles on display. (It's always fascinating to hear information from someone who is truly excited about something, their enthusiasm is contagious and you can't help but be excited about it too!)
The highlight by far was the newly arrived Space Shuttle Discovery. I missed the grand flyover last week, its final spin through the air over the city on the back of the jumbo jet, (darn that job that keeps me inside and on a schedule), but was able to witness it in all its used glory; chipped paint, after burn streaks and all. I have to say it was pretty impressive. It's been to space 39 times and is the first of the retired craft to find a home on display, signaling the end of an era.
Part of me would love to sail above the sky, among the infinite blackness (and the other part of me got claustrophobic just thinking about it!) There's something magical about space and the endless possibilities found among the stars. It makes me feel both grand and insignificant at the same time. I'm barely a speck in the vastness that is the universe and yet I marvel at the mechanics and intricacies that make up humanity and our world within that vastness. To me it bears testimony of a divine and omnipotent creator who cares for both the smallest minutia and the broadest scope. One day perhaps I'll have the chance to view things with His eye, to see the perfection of the spheres in our solar system, to skip among the Milky Way and slide upon the rings of Saturn discovering the truths of life on other planets and comprehending eternities. But for now I guess I'll have to be content with my occasional journeys in the passenger planes above the clouds to exciting, if merely terrestrial, locales.