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.