Sunday, February 2, 2003

Disaster evokes Challenger image
at Wright-Pat

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The TV image of the Shuttle Columbia reduced to trails of smoke evoked an image Stacey Evans witnessed in person 17 years ago.

As she and classmates stood outside Kings Highway Elementary School in Clearwater, Fla., in 1986, they looked into the clear blue sky and saw Challenger's disastrous takeoff.

"We were all crying... They rushed us back inside the school real quick after it happened, then they let us go home early because everyone was so upset,'' Evans said Saturday as she stood with her two children outside the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

"It's hard seeing this happen again. It brings it all back... I'm thinking about those people's families.''

Evans, 27, who lives in Fairborn, was among an estimated 2,500 people at the museum Saturday. It is celebrating the 100th anniversary of powered flight this year. It remained open for business in the wake of Saturday's tragedy.

A large American flag out front billowed in the chilly wind at half-staff.

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