Space shuttle trainer arrives in Seattle aboard Super Guppy

Space shuttle trainer arrives in Seattle aboard Super Guppy
SEATTLE — An unusually large cargo plane carrying a full-scale plywood mock-up of a space shuttle crew cabin arrived in Seattle on Saturday to an enthusiastic welcome.

Puget Sound residents got a glimpse of the so-called Super Guppy as it flew at low altitude around the region before heading to Boeing Field.

With cargo space that is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide and 111 feet long, the Guppy was uniquely equipped to carry the Space Shuttle Trainer.

Seattle's Museum of Flight placed fifth in a competition to land the four retired space shuttles. So NASA awarded the museum with the trainer.

Museum officials say that by October visitors will be able to walk through the trainer to see where astronauts trained for their missions.

"We think we've got something better. Something you can go up and touch. You can go inside, go up in the cockpit - see what it's like to be an astronout," says Doug King, president of the Museum of Flight.

KOMO News' own Steve Pool emceed the event.

"Lets hear it - it's here!" he said as the Super Guppy landed at Boeing Field.

After a dramatic landing the bulbous cargo plane pulled up to the museum where thousands waited for their first glimps of the space race artifact.

The full fuselage trainer is an exact replica of the inside of a space shuttle, and what every shuttle astronaut trained in before going to space.

At a ceremony before opening up the cargo plane, local astronaut and West Seattle Graduate Gregory Johnson shared some memories of his training in the unit.

"For example, a crash landing on the runway, and you would have to get yourself out in your spacesuit, out the top," he says.

Space program fans say today's arrival more than lived up to the hype.

"Exceeded it. It's on the top four things I've done in my life," said Andrew Turpin, who was there for the Super Guppy's arrival. "I think this is better than having a full shuttle,"

Leeann Martinson agreed. "It's a once in a lifetime thing to see."

Saturday's delivery was just the first piece of the shuttle trainer. Over the next two months it will all be put together at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery.