May 3, 1994: A couple of friends and I are vacationing in Florida and touring the Kennedy Space Center, where we'd stopped on impulse. An announcement came over the speakers that a launch was about to take place – cool! So from the vantage point of the Astronaut's Memorial, I snapped away with my OM-10 and 75-260 zoom, no idea what exposure I was using at the time.
I researched the launch a bit for this webpage, and found out it was a Titan 4A/Centaur TC-10 launch vehicle carrying a payload by the name of Trumpet-1, which is a surveillance satellite and as such, very little information can be found about it.
And at the time, it was a nice bonus to the visit, since we had no idea that the launch was scheduled for that day.
There's nothing there!
August 21, 2002: The first Atlas 5 launch vehicle takes to space, carrying Hotbird-6, a telecommunications satellite built by Eutelsat of Paris, France. I had recently moved to Florida and my schedule didn't allow me to do much of anything to witness this launch, so I simply stepped outside at the right time and caught a peek of the rocket heading skyward, using my Canon 75-300 on a tripod.
The Atlas 5 is a liquid fuel booster, as opposed to the Titan, above, that uses solid-fuel rockets almost identical to the big boosters on the space shuttle launch vehicle. The liquid fuel leaves practically no trace of a smoke trail, so sometimes it's hard to spot from a distance. Condensation from the heat and residue can often be seen, however, so trails are left behind in the right conditions.
Since I was over 50 km (30 mi) away, there was nothing to be heard at this point, though several minutes later a rumble like a jet passing over came across, building slightly more to a crescendo than a typical jet does. If I had been unaware of the launch the sound might have clued me in, but far too late to see anything.