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Leonid MAC 1999:
Day 10 (November 20):
Back to Edwards AFB and San Francisco

I awoke at 4 a.m. (EST) and thought about getting up. But I decided to try and sleep a little longer and ended up waking at 8! Great. Now I have to rush because the bus leaves at 9! No breakfast.

The ARIA took off just after noon after we spent two hours dismantling the equipment and stowing it away. During the flight back to Edwards most people were sleeping, but Dave and myself spent a lot of time camped out in front of the optical glass windows taking pictures and movies. Later in the flight we saw ancient volcanoes of New Mexico and Arizona, Meteor Crater, and the Grand Canyon. We landed at Edwards around 2:30 (PST).

Mike Wilson (University of California at San Francisco) and Richard Rairden (Lockheed Martin) were among the many people that were just too wore out to enjoy still another flight in the ARIA. Meanwhile, Chris Crawford, who ran the Near-Real Time Flux measurement computer, seems to have finally had too much! Photograph by Gary W. Kronk.

For a mission to study meteors entering Earth's atmosphere, the perfect ending was our flying over Meteor Crater in Arizona. Nearly one mile across, this is what big objects from space can do to our planet. Photograph by Gary W. Kronk.

At 3:30 (PST) we began the most harrowing part of the trip--a 7.5-hour drive to Moffett Field. Everyone was tired and both drivers were making everyone a little uncomfortable. We stopped at Denny's to eat and got a lot of interesting looks from people as we were still wearing our NASA flightsuits. The person who drove after the Denny's stop was definitely going too fast considering there were 11 people in this oversized van. At one point Dave Holman said an upcoming turn was particularly sharp and calmly noted we would all die if the driver didn't slow down. The driver responded to the warning and we all made it safely.

We arrived at Moffett at 11 p.m. and found out there were no plans for hotels for Chris and I. Fortunately, Richard Rairden of Lockheed offered to drive us to San Francisco, even though it was out of his way. We got to San Francisco and the first hotel we pulled into was full. We drove to the next one, the Sheridan, and found out that a large cancellation allowed us to get nice rooms for the rather cheap price of $89.

When I got to my room I called TWA to see about getting an earlier flight to St. Louis. They said it would cost me over $789 to upgrade because of full flights. They suggested I go as standby. They then gave me a list of flights to St. Louis. I opted to try the standby option. I went to sleep around 1 a.m.

Go to Day 11--November 21

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