Such a strange sight. So unnatural looking.
Can you imagine that first meeting? “Well, we can take off in Florida and land in California. How do we get it back to FL? Hows about we strap it to the top of a 747?”
This comes from Slate’s explainer explaining how it is all done. I like this fact: “Due to the piggybacked plane’s lousy aerodynamics and sizeable weight, the SCA’s fuel efficiency is significantly less than that of a commercial airliner. As a result, an SCA can’t fly more than 1000 nautical miles without refueling. The trip back will take up to 12 hours of flight time spread over two or three days.”
Many more pics of the shuttle making insect love to a jumbo jet are here: SCA Ferry Photo Collection Medium Resolution Contact Sheet