Our friends, Ginger and Frosty, have arrived and are staying at a hotel in Chantilly, VA. Do you know what it is like listening to Walt sing Chantilly Lace on our way to their hotel each morning? The Big Bopper he is not.
Our first outing was to the National Air and Space Museum right there in Chantilly.
All the Smithsonian Museums are free. Our taxes do go for good here.
This has been a bucket list item for Frosty. He is a long time aviation junky. From his time in the Navy, learning to fly, having his own plane and being in a horrific almost life ending crash he has loved all things in the air.
Walt really enjoyed it too. Brought back Navy memories and working for LSI after he got out.
Ginger and I really appreciated it too. We both kept commenting that we had no idea there were so many different aircraft built.
We took a tour with this delightful lady who really knew her aircraft.
There was SO much to see. Some made me think "You have got to be kidding.....this really could fly?"
Goodyear C-49 airship control car manufactured in the 1930's and actually was in service in one way or another until 1975.
The Goodyear Airship Pilgrim was built in the 1920's and was the first to fly with helium.
Who would be crazy enough to put on this spacesuit, dangle 25 miles above the earth beneath a helium balloon and cut himself loose to plummet toward the earth? Alan Eustace, a Google Vice President, falling faster than the speed of sound and breaking the world altitude record did it in October 2014.
It was fun to hear about the antics of the stunt pilot Bob Hoover and to hear about him from Frosty as well since he knew him.
They have an Air France Concorde on display. This sleek, delta-winged Concorde cruised at more than twice the speed of sound at around 1,350 mph, and at an altitude of up to 60,000 feet. A trip on the Concorde was about twice as fast as on conventional aircraft. Concorde flights ended in 2003 due to fewer passengers since the 2000 crash (killing all 100 passengers and 9 crew members) and reduced air travel after the September 11 attacks.
There are planes everywhere, on the floor and hanging from the rafters. Ginger and I decided it had to be a clever designer to do the plan to fit them all in.
The Sikorsky X2 is an experimental high-speed compound helicopter. From what I understand that means it can go straight up and then fly forward like an airplane to make it the world's fastest helicopter.
Ginger and I loved this one. We both loved the TV show Pan Am but there must not have been enough of us because it only lasted one season. This plane was flown by Pan American as the Clipper Flying Cloud.
This is the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that in 1945 was used to drop the first atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. It was loaded with "Little Boy", the atomic bomb that we learned so much about on our visit to Los Alamos where the Manhattan Project took place.
This menacing looking plane is the SR-71 Blackbird. It is the sleek, stealthy Air Force spy plane that cruised at more than three times the speed of sound. That translates to better than 2,000 miles per hour—at altitudes between 75,000 and 85,000 feet, too high and too fast to be shot down by an enemy fighter or a surface-to-air missile. Too expensive to maintain and fly it has now been retired. The Blackbirds were stationed out of Beale Air Force Base in Northern California and I have actually seen them fly over. Amazing, unreal experience.
This is the Space Shuttle Orbiter Discovery. How exciting to be close to this hardworking space craft.
This is a National Treasure. It has flown into space 39 times from 1984 through 2011 — more missions than any of its sister ships — spending altogether 365 days in space.
It was so interesting to hear our tour guide tell us about the tiles that cover the exterior of the shuttle. Each one is individually numbered to make it easier to replace when one has been damaged. The nice smooth black ones have never been in space, the others show the effects of having been there. They are the thermal protection system that protects the exterior during the searing 3000 degree heat on reentry. It also protects from the heat and cold of space while it is in orbit.
So many missions.....manned by both astronauts and others during its service.
This is the Mobile Quarantine Facility, a converted Airstream trailer used by NASA to quarantine astronauts returning from Apollo lunar missions. Its purpose was to prevent the spread of any contagions from the moon. It was eliminated following Apollo 14 once it was proven that the moon was void of life.
I have just touched the surface of all we saw. What an amazing place. The visit was made especially great by being there with friends.
Our visit was completed by a visit to the Observation tower for a 360 degree view of the area. The trees were showing off their colors.
There was still time in the day for a quick run into Washington DC so Ginger and I could check out the White House.
A beautiful neoclassical home and residence for the President of the United States.
To say that I was sad at my visit to the White House behind double security fences, armed guards, crazy people and littered grounds is too true. Pennsylvania Avenue closed, sidewalks blocked off.......all this in a city that has 34 different law enforcement agencies.
They have put up high chain link fences but allow difficult to understand agendas to play out. I know, I know. Freedom of speech. It has left me speechless.
The lovely grounds have now been torn up and littered.
Protestors disbursed among the tourists.
One of the security guards was asked about the protestors and he said he had been assigned this duty since May and that many of the same ones were there day after day. Which led to me and Ginger discussing how they can do it. Some had their children with them. How do they afford to live? Does someone pay them to be here? Let's move on to better places. Like dinner.
A glimpse of the Pentagon as the lights came on as we were on our way for that dinner. Good friends and good food completed our day.