Tuesday, December 1, 2009
what is it about big machines
...that i love so much? I really enjoy the natural world, but man i loves me some machinery. Sunday i was able to spend the morning with two of my favorite things: fTM Matt and airplanes. He was home from California for the holiday and i agreed to take him to the airport to return. Somehow he was inadvertently flying out of Dulles instead of BWI or Reagan-National (hey, don't ask me how someone can not know which airport they bought tickets to; just trust me that it happened) which is out in Northern Virginia. Next door to the airport is the second location of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - the Udvar-Hazy Center. It is my favorite Smithsonian. It is Matt's favorite Smithsonian. If you have never been there, you should go. Man, i love this place. It used to be that all of the surplus planes, etc from Air and Space along with the pieces that were too big for the building on the Mall, were stored in a big warehouse some place. They would have open houses so that you could see what was there every once in a while, but nothing was really displayed so much as crammed into any place possible. But not now. Now they are on display here You wanna see the Concord? They got one. The Enola Gay? Got it. Homemade helicopters? Got it. A Corsair close enough that you could touch it, suspended like it's in a dog fight? hmmmm... CHECK! ohhhhh... look at its swept wings... and its funny little elbows... and the lovely blue color... and it makes me think of Robert Conrad... i loved that show... sigh... it's my favorite WWII plane... Perhaps you're looking for something more modern. Say, for instance, the fastest plane on public record, the plane that flew from LA to DC in 64 minutes, the plane that goes so fast it actually elongates in the air, the plane that is so sleek and sexy it gives me heart palpitations the SR-71, Blackbird yep; it's my favorite alright Look at it, people. It is like something out of a movie (and no, i'm not referring to Transformers 2) or out of a dream. Looking at a picture of this plane makes my heart beat fast. Standing next to it almost makes me swoon. Look at how close the guardrail is to it; you could touch it for Pete's sake. You can read the labels on the hatches, people. Dang! i could curl up and nap in its afterburners. But wait... what is that in the far background of the that picture, behind the exquisite SR-71, Blackbird? Did you say you wanted to stand next to a space shuttle? No problemo! You might be wondering what i am craning my neck to see in this photo... it's an MMU suspended between the shuttle and a satellite, as if the astronaut had left the Enterprise and was on a repair EVA. It's fricking awesome. If you have never been, you owe it to yourself to check out this location of the Smithsonian (there is no admission charge, but parking was $15 so that jerks won't use the museum parking for the airport - why do the idiots gotta spoil it for us all, i say?). If it has been a while since you visited, you should go back. Matt and I were both there 5.5 years ago on a team field trip and since then they have finished the Space Hall - incredible!