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SONIC BOOM A FAMILIAR SOUND SHUTTLE'S EDWARDS AFB LANDING REASSURES SCV RESIDENTS.

Byline: Eugene Tong Staff Writer

Gus Gesiriech waited out under the pre-dawn sky early Tuesday with his daughter and granddaughter, ready to welcome a familiar visitor from beyond.

``I was outside when I heard the boom,'' said Gesiriech, 83, of Elizabeth Lake. ``It was quite pronounced. ... I was anticipating it - it didn't disappoint me.''

The double sonic boom of a space shuttle descending toward Edwards Air Force Base is a familiar thunder for many longtime residents of the Santa Clarita Valley. Edwards has been the landing site now for 50 shuttle missions; the last was Endeavour in June 2002.

But for some, this sonic boom spoke of something more - the thrill of Discovery safely hitting tarmac 2 1/2 years after America lost Columbia and its crew.

``It woke me up,'' said Debbie Carleton, 41, of Newhall. ``I jumped up and turned the TV on and saw them land. I was happy.''

The sonic boom rattled the windows at Janet Sambar's home in Saugus.

``My son then turned on the television to see if they were OK,'' said Sambar. ``He yelled at me that they landed safely, I went back to bed.... We're just glad they made it back here safely.''

Uncertain weather in Florida prompted NASA officials to divert Discovery to the back-up site at Edwards, where it landed at 5:11 a.m. to conclude its two-week mission in space.

Along the way, the shuttle crossed the Ventura County coastline at Point Mugu and zoomed northeast across the Santa Clarita Valley, triggering car alarms and jolting countless out of bed.

Those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Discovery said they saw an orange point of light - brighter than the average star - cutting east across the sky before disappearing beyond the horizon.

Clint Milteer, 44, of Newhall was in the shower when the shuttle passed overhead. Though the 30-year local resident has heard the sonic boom several times before, he said this was the loudest yet.

``I just jumped out of the shower,'' Milteer said. ``It was so quiet - the city only starts to bustle at about 6 a.m. ... It just shook the house. I heard car sirens going off.

``There was certainly a sense of relief. It landed really quick.''

Juan Bernabe, 42, said he was baking bread at his San Fernando Road bakery and preparing to open when he heard something ``like a bump.''

``I thought it was something in the oven,'' said Bernabe, owner of Jazmin's Bakery. ``I asked somebody if it was an accident or something. We didn't know exactly what it was. Everybody looked at me and said, 'What was that?'''

For Gesiriech, an aircraft technician for Lockheed Martin for 35 years, it's a sound that never gets old.

``I've been around aircraft and sonic booms, and it's a bit of history and a bit of excitement,'' he said. ``It's something the kids can never forget, and I as well.''

Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253

eugene.tong(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 10, 2005
Words:497
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