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Published January 30, 2015

Final Flight: Space Shuttle Columbia

Early yesterday morning, I looked upward to see a brilliant, silver-white object moving across the sky. The sun was glinting off of the fuselage of an airplane flying high in the sky at this time of day captured my imagination.

I watched as the shining speck of bright light silently flew from horizon to horizon, leaving curling, whispy, white contrails behind.

I watched as the contrails expanded into ever lighter wisps until they were gone, blended into the color that is the sky. And I remembered.

The morning of February 1, 2003 I now recall as streaks in the sky, and a voice… A voice that still haunts me.

  • Columbia, Houston…UHF comm check.


  • Columbia…UHF comm check…


  • Columbia…UHF comm check…


  • Columbia…..Houston…….UHF Comm Check…

Sixteen minutes from home… And I still hear the silence. Never can I look to the sky and see a contrail the same way again.

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RELATED: Childhood’s End: The Day We Lost Challenger.

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  • Earl Barber


  • Earl Barber is a blue collar working stiff who prefers playing his 12-string acoustic guitar for free to most any other endeavor. An occasional essayist, Earl has been posting on random internet sites, most notably the old WRAL-TV GOLO pages, with his essays for over ten years. All my articles.

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