Monday, December 29, 2014

Virginia Diaries -- Close encounter with aerospace marvels

I've been watching them on the Discovery channel since my childhood. Their very sight on the TV made to me to get glued to the TV untill the show was finished and I wouldn't hesitate the to watch the show again and again.

I went to National aerospace museum in Virginia last week.. Initially it was only the SR 71 black bird in my mind which led me to go there, but there were other things in store which brought a sense of inspiration and amazement of how far the human mind would go to build such complex machines.

As I entered the museum, far in the front there was the space shuttle - majestically resting in the hangar. . It is one thing to watch these go skywards and another thing to see them in real. Even after trying a number of times, I could not capture the whole thing! Can only imagine how bigger the rockets would have been which took it into space.

It is amazing to see such complex piece of machinery on close quarters. One cannot stop admiring the reach and technical competency of the human mind which has taken us by leaps and bounds into the sky and beyond. 

The SR 71 Black bird, my all time favorite plane was right before  the shuttle in another hanger. This sexy black beauty made by Lockheed Martin is a feast  to aero enthusiasts. One plane after another my close observations with these wonders make me feel, if we as humans could achieve so much in the past 40 years , there is a lot of potential in store for the future. I spent almost 50 minutes around the jet trying to take photographs. I just wanted that perfect moment to be captured. 

That  such a spy plane used for reconnaissance could deflect and hide radar was beyond my imagination. Now I keep hearing rumors if the US used any alien technology in this? have they? we might never know. Kudos to Lockheed  for conceiving such an idea and for always being on the edge. No wonder this baby is still the fastest plane in the world at Mach 3+ speeds. 

If SR 71 has been the fastest ever airplane, it might only be applicable for the military side of things. But what when ordinary humans wanted to travel faster? This is where the Concorde  comes in. Many people might already know about it, This is another plane which I wanted to see in real some day. I was always curious about it's operational mechanism and how it would fit into the passenger market. Cruising at Mach 2.04 this has been the fastest passenger jet so far taking people from New york  to London in just 3 hours. To compare things - It takes 6 hours for a Boeing 747 and 1 hour 45 mins for the blackbird to travel the same distance. But we have to take note here that the SR 71 travels at 80,000 feet which is an altitude where even conventional oxygen masks wont work. Hence Concorde in all it's glory is the only passenger supersonic aircraft. 

Before I windup, there are 2 other planes which I want to mention. One is the F35 Stealth fighter and the other one is the B 29 Bomber which was used to drop the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima during Word War 2. Both of the planes have served or have bee serving for their unique purpose for what they were created. Heck I even was thinking to get a glimpse of the F22 but my bad.. it was too much to take in for a 5 hour trip. 

There are no words to describes when you get to see such engineering marvels. You walk around them in awe and all I can do is salute the geniuses behind machines which have challenged the technological limits humans. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Since my arrival to the US, I always wanted to have an experience of the local festivities here be it Halloween or Thanksgiving. Most of the times, missing Indian festivities back home used to bring back fond memories of delicious food and the family unions. While Halloween finished off in a blink, thanksgiving was another thing all together. 

It was Wednesday afternoon when I noticed both the college staff and non teaching folks wanting to go home soon. workers at  Starbucks in our college library were already getting upset since they were the only ones working on thanksgiving eve. I wondered, why would people be so excited about a one day festival? I was wrong. 

It was thanksgiving on Thursday alright, apart from that long weekend was also the reason. Now, we Indians might have plenty of festivals throughout the year,giving us the excuse to stay back home have awesome food, pray and have a good time. But what about the folks here? I guess they also look upon the festival times to get some time off and when weekend is upon them anyone would want to get away from their hectic life. (Reminds me of my  days at Google where I had 3 days week off. Those days were fun) 

Many of my friends who had cars drove off to places to hang out or do shopping while those "exciting deals" where still there. But me being me, was all  alone in the apartment for 4 days. Sheesh. I had my fun time too. An american friend of mine happens to be a Music major in my college. He also like me,signed up for the cousins program, and since then we have been hanging out with a couple of other folks around places. He invited me to his home for dinner along with two other folks from Russia. Now isn't this exciting? hmmm..  

I was a vegetarian and was really getting on my nerves on how I would manage and get though this "american dinner" experience. Thankfully, my friend's  mom was very thoughtful and made some rice for me, which was the only thing I had apart from the delicious rice crisps and the pie. More than the food, the dinner was a perfect opportunity for great conversation between my hosts and myself and of course the bloke from Russia. They were a family of musicians and I myself had musicians in my ancestors. Loads of instrument playing, singing and playing poker and they made me to sing a couple of classical verses too lol. The pie was fabulous and it was an evening well spent(even though I had finals coming up). 

Where ever we go, the importance of festivals is the same, since the concept of vacations never existed before, people needed some time off from their regular life and here they -  are be it Thanksgiving or Diwali. 

Celebrating life...