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Leonid MAC 1999:
Day 3 (November 13):
We're Off!

We had a nice relaxing breakfast on this morning. I had a chance to talk to Bill Smith who is a professor at Washington University--my place of employment. I also had a chance to talk to Klaas Jobse at length. We then put on our flightsuits and prepared for our first big flight.

The van left around 9 a.m. and we arrived at Edwards about 40 minutes later. We put our gear on board the ARIA. NASA's PR people, as well as some Japanese reporters were filming us as we boarded. The FISTA rolled away for takeoff at 10:45 a.m. and we took off at 10:50.

The flight was very exciting at first because none of the instruments were set up in front of the optical glass windows. Several of us took numerous pictures of the terrain below.


These images were taken out of the optical glass windows of the ARIA not long after leaving Edwards AFB. We were heading eastward. Photographs by Gary W. Kronk.

At 4:15 p.m. (CST) we passed over the Mississippi and at 4:28 we saw the southern shore of Lake Michigan out of the north-facing windows. Later we saw a beautiful sunset. As the land darkened I noticed the rivers of water were replaced by rivers of light from the roads below.

Looking out of an optical glass window to the north, the sun is setting in the west and golden rays fall upon clouds below. Photograph by Gary W. Kronk.

We landed at 7:15 p.m. (EST) at McGuire AFB in New Jersey. A bunch of us ordered pizza from Dominos since we would be there for about three hours because of refueling.

Takeoff occurred at about 10:15 p.m. We traveled southeast as we were vectored around New York city. From out the left side windows of the ARIA the lights of New York were very impressive. Meanwhile the pitch black of the Atlantic lay ahead and to our right.

Go to Day 4--November 14

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