I saw Columbia on the launch pad before its fatal flight. Me and a buddy were in Florida and had some extra time so we went to Kennedy Space Center to take the tour and Columbia had been rolled out to the launch pad.
As it turned out my buddy was driving up to Mammoth Mountain in California the morning it broke up and he saw the flaming debris. Of course at the time he had no idea what he was seeing and thought it was just a spectacular meteorite.
As it turns out someone got a picture of it:
It hits a lot harder when you've followed the shuttle program for so long and even seen the shuttle in person.
Hard to believe it's been 10 years already. I remember that day vividly.