This morning as I took in the shuttle landing, I did so with a recently acquired sense of amazement and appreciation for this most amazing of human machines.
My young nephews are visiting us in D.C. from Indianapolis and last week we spent a day at the Dulles-based National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center checking out the huge planes, missiles, rockets etc. that don’t fit in the D.C. NASM. I have always loved planes because I grew up in an airline family. (My dad worked for Air-India for 40 years, my sister is currently a stewardess for the same airline, and just about every family friend and many relatives work for an airline.) Given my fascination with planes, the visit to Udvar-Hazy was a special treat. I was especially looking forward to seeing the shuttle as I have constructed many shuttle models ever since I was a kid, but have never seen a real one.
I was not disappointed. Seeing the shuttle close-up I was totally mesmerized. This is truly an awesome piece of hardware. I had to walk around it a few times to take in all the details. The one they have at Udvar-Hazy is the Enterprise (named after the Star Trek ship based on public votes). This shuttle has never been out in space and has only been used for testing on Earth. This in no way takes away from its magnificence. Large, graceful and majestic, I can only imagine how fantastic it must be to ride in one of these after years of grueling work and training. (Sorry the pic is a bit fuzzy…it came off my phone camera.)
At the museum, I also spent some time paying special attention to two other very famous planes.
The first was the SR-71 Blackbird — the world’s fastest and highest flying plane (>2000 mph; 80,000 ft.). I had no idea how big the plane was because I had never really seen any photos of it next to any person or thing. Take a look…the freakin’ thing is huge (see people to the left of engine for comparison).
The second was the Enola Gay. Knowing that the anniversary of the day on which this silver monster unleashed atomic fury on Hiroshima from its belly (Aug. 6) was only three days away, I couldn’t help but feel an incredible sadness for the innocent lives that this plane had caused to be destroyed. Today is the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing and I feel even sadder. I was Googling the subject and came across Paul Tibbets website. If you have some time, check it out. It gives some deeper insights into the bombings.