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Shuttle Columbia at Barksdale 29 Years Ago

photo by John Lee

With the shuttle Endeavor now in the midst of the final mission of the space shuttle program, I thought it might be interesting to take a trip down memory lane to April 8, 1982.This was the first time that a shuttle, riding piggy-back aboard a specially-equipped NASA 747, landed at Barksdale Air Force Base as it made its cross-country trek from Edwards AFB in California back to “The Cape.”

The good folks in the Barksdale Public Information Office called me (I was then News Director of only KWKH-AM and KROK-FM — before all six of our stations merged into one big happy family in August of 1996) and asked me if we could do a remote broadcast from the base and provide traffic reports so the public could come out and see the shuttle.  I readily agreed and we put together a remote broadcast involving announcers Frank Page and Dave Markham (shown in photo); two mobile news units on the streets doing traffic reports; and Bess Maxwell in the State Police helicopter doing traffic reports from the air.  The day went off flawlessly and thousands of Ark-La-Tex residents were able to enter the otherwise-locked-down SAC base for an opportunity to get up close and personal with the Shuttle Columbia.

Ironically, it was that same shuttle (Columbia) that blew up over north Texas during re-entry on February 1, 2003 and Barksdale, again, became the focus of attention.  All of the debris and remains collected across east Texas and western Louisiana were brought to Barksdale for analysis and recreation of what had happened.

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