SHUTTLE

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is seen on top of a 747 on Oct. 18, 1992, at what was the Gregg County Airport.

QUESTION: I walk every day through my neighborhood and am pleased to see how many folks are now getting out at different times of the day to walk with family, dogs, etc., while practicing staying at home more due to the coronavirus situation.

However, I am a little concerned to observe how many people do not walk on the proper side of the streets. Many are walking on the right side of the street rather on the left, as pedestrians are supposed to do. Some like to walk down the middle of the streets and then get upset when a car honks at them in order to get by. This is clearly a safety issue and a consideration issue.

Can you confirm with the police department which side of a public street we’re supposed to walk on?

ANSWER: Ouch. You’re talking to me and the baby Answer Lines aren’t you? I didn’t realize until you asked this question that we have a very irritating way of meandering our way down the wrong side of the street during one of the several walks we try to take each day to wear out the children and the husky.

So, you’re right. State law says pedestrians should walk on the left side of the road, unless there’s a sidewalk. If there’s a sidewalk, pedestrians are required to use it.

However, people riding bikes should ride with the traffic.

“If you’re walking, you should see (cars’) headlights,” said Longview police spokesman Brandon Thornton. “If you’re riding a bicycle, you should see their tail lights.”

And as long as we’re talking laws, remember that people on bikes are supposed to obey all traffic laws — stop at stop signs and red lights and use your hands to make turn signals.

Also, Thornton reminded us all that if we’re out after dark or as nighttime is approaching, we need to be wearing bright or even reflective clothing.

Q: Is it OK to ride a motorcycle under all the orders regulating social distancing?

A: Yes, it’s Ok. (Unless you’re riding on the same motorcycle as someone who doesn’t live in your house. That would break the social distancing guidelines, I think.)

Q: What was the name of the space shuttle (pictured) and date it landed at the Gregg County Airport (East Texas Regional Airport)? I believe it was the early ‘90s. I neglected to notate the date and name of the shuttle on the back of my photos.

A: You are correct. It was the early ‘90s — Oct. 18, 1992, to be exact. It was a Sunday, and that is the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The newspaper article that ran the next day said Atlantis had hitched a ride on the 747 from Florida to California, where it was refurbished and upgraded for an upcoming mission. The plane stopped at the Longview airport to refuel — and to get some obvious publicity — thanks to the efforts of then U.S. Reps. Ralph Hall and Jim Chapman. Lots of people turned out that day to see the shuttle.

I still get goosebumps when I think about the space shuttle program. The Atlantis was one of five shuttles, and the last one to fly. The shuttle program lasted from its first launch on April 12, 1981, to when Atlantis landed on the last flight, on July 21, 2011. Atlantis is on display now at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

I’m thankful to reader Janis Stanley for sharing this photo with us — she said she has a stack of them from that day.

”My husband Jerry and I were at the airport, as well as, many others. I was 36 years old,” she said. “There was a lot of anticipation and excitement from the crowd. We watched as the Boeing 747 landed with the shuttle piggybacked and as it took off after refueling. Longview’s airport was chosen because the runway was much longer than Pounds Field in Tyler.”

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to answerline@news-journal.com, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.