Space Shuttle Atlantis made an unscheduled stopover in Amarillo, Texas this morning on its way back from California to Florida; it was an incredibly rare landing for the 747/shuttle combo on a commercial runway, and from this video, it looks like hundreds of Texans relished the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the orbiter in their town. The Shuttle came through San Antonio once or twice when I was a kid, but it always landed and took off from one of the three Air Force bases in town rather than the airport, so I never got a good view of it on the runway.

Seeing the shuttle actually flying atop that 747 never fails to make me nervous; there’s just no way to convince me that that’s anything but an uninterrupted nightmare for the pilots of that big bird. I’d imagine that that takeoff is particularly frightening — hurtling down a runway with a freaking Space Shuttle bolted to the top of the plane, gathering speed incredibly slowly and hoping that the pavement doesn’t end before the whole contraption launches into the air.