Come April 23, if you notice an usually large figure hovering above the New York City skyline, breathe easy as it's most likely Shuttle Enterprise flying over the city, as NASA transports the shuttle to its eventual Hudson River retirement. Update: The Enterprise's New York City arrival has been delayed until further notice due to an "unfavorable weather forecast."
Enterprise is currently housed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., but the shuttle is being moved to New York to make way for NASA's most-flown space plane, Discovery, which will take Enterprise's place. NASA explains:
The exact route and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints, including the on-time delivery of space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., this week. If all goes as planned, the aircraft is expected to fly near a variety of landmarks in the metropolitan area, including the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
As for the shuttle's retirement plans, Enterprise will be prepared for its residence at the Intrepid Museum starting in June.
It's a good thing NASA is warning us in advance -- New York is a little sensitive about such matters. In 2009, an unannounced photo op showing a low-flying Air Force One caused a minor panic for those who witnessed the massive plane flanked by a military jet. Obama was apparently "furious" when he heard about the mishap, and the White House employee responsible for the photo op later resigned.
Back in October, a skywriting art project displaying ominous messages such as "LAST CHANCE" and "LOST OUR LEASE" appeared on a sunny day, frightening several New Yorkers who weren't privy to the installation's plans.