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Space Shuttle Enterprise Arrives In New York City

Space shuttle Enterprise, mounted atop a 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport April 27, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Space shuttle Enterprise, mounted atop a 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, lands at John F. Kennedy International Airport April 27, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Space shuttle Enterprise has arrived in New York City.

Hundreds of onlookers armed with cameras gathered on rooftops and piers to catch a glimpse of the Enterprise, which was airlifted on the back of a 747, as it arrived in the Big Apple Friday morning.

It flew over city landmarks for nearly an hour before landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport just before 11:30 a.m.

“Touchdown at JFK!” NASA posted on Twitter.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

“Just about every major city in the country wanted the Enterprise, ” said Sen. Charles Schumer at a ceremony welcoming the shuttle at JFK. “But New York has the right stuff and we won.”

PHOTOS: Space Shuttle Enterprise Comes To NYC

For those watching the shuttle as it zoomed over the city, it was quite a sight.

“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.

“It’s very impressive, it was fun to watch,” Todd Burroughs, who is visiting New York City from Utah, told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports

Burroughs’ 3-year-old son Issac was excited to see it.

“It was cool,” he said. “It was fun!”

Jack, a Korean War Air Force veteran, fought back the tears as he watched the shuttle pass over Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

“It’s fabulous,” he told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “I can’t believe it. Putting one of those things on the top of a 747, it’s unreal.”

“It was amazing, I had tears in my eyes,” Jessica Becker of Bayonne told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney. “I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid and I used to wake up early to watch shuttle launches on TV and I pulled my son out of school today because I felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“I’m at an age where I remember space race,” Deborah Pheasant from Staten Island, who watched the shuttle’s arrival from Battery Park, told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider. “This is very important and I think it’s great New York has this.”

John Caim from Queens said he saw the Enterprise more than 30 years ago when NASA was testing the shuttle near LaGuardia and was armed with his camera Friday morning ready to see it again.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

“I first saw it flying over College Point, Queens in the late 70s. I heard this noise. I didn’t know what it was,” Caim said. “I figured this is the last time I’ll get to see it on the back of a 747.”

Enterprise was the first shuttle ever to be built by NASA. It never flew into space, but paved the way for others that did. NASA engineers used the Enterprise to figure out how to land a shuttle, launching the glider from the back of a modified 747 in 1977.

After years at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, its new home will be on the deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

“I am thrilled to see NASA land a space shuttle in New York City and I can’t wait for my two young boys to experience the Enterprise,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement. “As the cultural and economic capital of our nation, New York City has the right stuff to create a world class exhibit attracting millions of visitors and school children. Having this American treasure in the heart of the Big Apple will inspire  generations to come.”

Last week, a Royal Navy fighter-bomber, a Douglas Sky Knight and a North Korean MIG-15 were hoisted from the flight deck and put onto a barge. The military aircraft were removed from the Intrepid’s collection to make room for the newest space shuttle exhibit.

PHOTOS: Aircraft Moved From Intrepid

“We’re just so thrilled that we’ll be the ones to perpetuate its history and tell the story to what will be the millions of people who will come to see it,” said Susan Marenoff-Zausner, president of the Intrepid Museum.

“Without Enterprise proving things, the rest of the fleet would have never been built, would have never flown in space,” said museum curator Eric Boehm. “Enterprise is so important to history.”

The shuttle will be stored at a hangar at JFK until June.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

“Then it will come up by barge on June 6 to the Intrepid,” said Marenoff-Zausner. “It’s going to be an amazing day. It’ll be a crane that will take it and put it on the flight deck.”

The exhibit will open to the public in mid-July.

WATCH ON -DEMAND: CBS2’s Live Special Report – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

For more information, visit www.intrepidmuseum.org.

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