Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Disney Break

I hope that you don’t mind if I take a few days off from blogging. I happen to be “working” at Disneyland this week. And I flew my Mama in from Salt Lake City to join me as I struggle through this terrible ordeal.

In anticipation of this week’s events, I haven’t slept well. It feels like Christmas Eve! I keep imagining running from ride to ride, skipping with my Mama while having the time of my life. I am betting these dreams will come true.

So I’m going to focus on spending a wonderful two days with one of my favorite people in the world, in one of my favorite places in the world. It isn’t every day that I get to visit such a magical establishment. In fact, I haven’t been here since 2000. And it feels awful to admit that.

It will be rough enjoying Splash Mountain, fudge, the new Matterhorn, Tiki Hut Pineapple Juice, people-watching, The Haunted Mansion, and a surprise lunch reservation at The Blue Bayou Restaurant with my Mama for the next few days. I tell you, this new job has been really hard on me.

I can hardly wait to enjoy the parks with one of the most easily-excited people that I know. Let’s just say that she likes Disneyland. At least I know where I get it, huh?

And just to pour salt into the wound, my boss got us rooms in the Disney Grand California Hotel. Am I spoiled or what?!

Yep. I might never leave.

Have a great weekend! I’ll probably be enjoying mine just a teensy weensy bit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Midway Museum Love – Part Four

Midway Part 4

Hopefully you aren’t tired of these museum posts. I have wanted to visit the USS Midway ever since I discovered its existence. It’s been years. And finally being able to go there only deserves multiple posts on this here blog!

I hope that you don’t mind that I love airplanes and want to share them with you. They are cooler than spray paint. That’s how I feel about it.


We take a brief break from the top of the aircraft carrier to see some pilot stuff. Just off the flight deck, there is a short stairway to four Ready Rooms below. These rooms are used for last-minute flight briefing for flight crews rather than having to go three levels below the ship for their normal flight briefing room.

These are closer to the action and, well, ready. They seem to be appropriately-named, huh?


And what room would be ready without a bunch of creepy mannequins? Man, I can never get used to these guys making random appearances throughout the ship.

Were these guys here during your visit, Susan, or is this a recent “enhancement” to the USS Midway?


Sweet! I did take a picture of the seat backs! These gentlemen actually used these seats while at sea on the Midway, and they paid to have them restored for the museum. In honor of such dedication and generosity, they got their names embroidered on the seats for all the world to see.

Pretty stinkin’ cool, says I.

This was an actual ejection seat used in one of the carrier airplanes. I don’t know which one, but I was alone in the room (except my lifeless friends) and took the opportunity to sit in it. I would probably like ejection seats, as long as I wasn’t in them when they were ejecting.

It smelled really old and war-like. It was very neat.


Okie dokie, we’re back on top after viewing the Ready Rooms just off the flight deck. This lovely little number, located right next to the Ready Room stairwell, is the Lockheed S-3 Viking. Because this airplane’s sound was very low-pitched, it got the nickname of “Hoover,” like the vacuum.

You can’t say that you never learn anything on this blog.


This was one of the few Navy airplanes to have its own Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU. This is an on-board miniature jet engine that assists in engine starts and helps to keep the airplane cool before starting up.

Also, this engine was a high-bypass that had great fuel efficiency. This allowed the Viking to be a popular go-to airplane for a variety of missions, including air refueling, reconnaissance, and (originally back in its day in the 1960s) submarine warfare.


I loved this picture of The Island of the ship. We will talk more about this next week!

Welcome to what made it possible for gigantic airplanes to take off in less space than three football fields! This is one of two steam catapults located on the flight deck of the Midway. Steam replaced hydraulic catapults in the 1960s and is much more efficient. They simply used the same steam that powered the ship through the water.

And the airplane demonstrating how to hook up to the steam catapult is the A-7 Corsair II, which came about in 1962 to replace the A-4 Skyhawk.

This was one of the first airplanes ever to have a HUD (Heads-Up Display) which projects digital information such as airspeed, heading, dive angle, etc. onto the windscreen for pilots to see without having to look inside the cockpit during critical phases of flight. It was revolutionary.


Look at that arsenal! I’m glad that the A-7 flew on our team! Isn’t it pretty?

For even more information on the USS Midway, and thus more information that will help you sleep better at night, this is a cool website for the ship’s history. Can you believe that in this short distance, loaded airplanes were able to take flight?!


It was only when I posted this picture of the side of the ship that I noticed their cardboard cutout of a flight deck crew member signaling us in. How cool! Now I know why they wear brightly-colored vests in real life! I didn’t even see this guy!


You can see here the end of the left catapult line, as well as the giant letters on the flight deck designating this Midway as number forty-one. I am sure this was helpful for approaching pilots to confirm on which ship they were about to land!


Ouch! Again, more painful chain link fences to catch the crew members who have to jump away from danger above.

I do like the “Welcome Home” banner on the Midway, welcoming home the crews of the still-active Navy carriers on just the other side of the San Diego Bay. Pretty cool.


In case you’re wondering how far you’ll have to go to make a visit to the Midway yourself, there is downtown San Diego! And downtown is a whole three miles from the international airport.

Please come visit this ship. It is awe-inspiring!


Well, what have we here? Do they let sharks on ships?! Crap. I guess they don’t know my personal sentiments on giant sharks.


As I carefully got closer, I realized that it wasn’t an shark at all, but a F-8 Crusader made by Vought.

This guy was developed in 1955 and was the last jet fighter to be equipped with guns. Later in his long lifespan, the Crusader was key in photographing points of interest during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This thing can climb at 25,000 feet-per-minute.

And to think that it felt like a rocket in Gladys last week when she was doing 5,200 FPM!


This odd-looking fellow is the Grumman E-2 Hawkeye. You would think he couldn’t fly with that gigantic radar dome coming off his back, but this airplane has played a critical role in wars from the mid-sixties to present-day.

They are still building this airplane for use in the military, with the latest model being released in just 2007. That simply amazes me that an airplane can stand the test of time so well and still be so useful. The Hawkeye is only one of two propeller-driven airplanes that still operates from aircraft carriers today.


The Hawkeye’s purpose in life was to provide early warning of incoming enemy targets. That giant radar dome on board houses lots of electrical equipment that helps the ships to know when they could potentially be attacked.

We could find out a lot sooner with the Hawkeye in the air gathering data than waiting for the carrier’s resources to pick up hints of danger.


This beast in the middle of the flight deck is another F-4 Phantom, which is one of my favorite airplanes.


To show off their new fighter, the Navy held several record-setting flights in production airplanes in the early 1960s. Speed and altitude (up to 98,000 feet!) records were crashed in the Phantom, and the speed records held for fifteen years until broken in 1975 by the F-15.


The engineers had to do a last-minute design change to the wing to give it better flight characteristics in slow flight. And, because of its massive size, the Phantom wasn’t the best option in a dogfight. But it became the blueprint for many jets to follow.


I have never seen an A-5 Vigilante in person, so this was an incredible experience for me. This airplane was originally designed to be a supersonic bomber, but it quickly became the Navy’s best tool for tactical strike reconnaissance during the Vietnam War.

They really went to town on this airplane…the contract was awarded in 1956, and less than two years later, the first Vigilante had a test flight. During its introduction to the Navy, the A-5 was one of the largest and certainly the most complex airplane flying from carriers. It didn’t even have ailerons but used spoilerons to control roll.


Though it was very fast and agile for its size, it required a very high speed and angle of attack when returning to the carrier to land. This made landing on a tiny, moving runway quite a challenge, and the best-of-the-best were thus offered the flying positions on the Vigilante.

It was also a leader in technology at the time, being one of the first airplanes ever to have fly-by-wire controls with mechanical backups. Look at that engine intake!

Seeing all of these airplanes in person was a treat! Next Monday, we’ll get to see The Island of the ship, which is the huge structure that rises above the flight deck.

I know. I can’t wait either.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Midway Museum Love – Part Three

Midway Part 3

Now that we’ve seen the helicopters that the flight deck has in store for us, let’s start talking airplanes. You know, things that don’t have to spin to a deathly revolution before being able to leave the earth in flight.


Oh my goodness. I think we’re in the right place for airplanes. I feel like I’m at Oshkosh all of a sudden…but with much less humidity!


This Douglas A-3 Skywarrior was one of the biggest airplanes on the aircraft carrier deck today. I love this airplane, and not just because its nickname is “The Whale.” For many years, this was the heaviest airplane to utilize an aircraft carrier for landings and takeoffs, which earned it such a nice nickname.


This jet pretty much did it all. The Air Force used it as a B-66 Destroyer, while the Navy used it as a reconnaissance airplane, strategic bomber, and an aerial fuel tanker.

The Navy’s primary purpose for it when the Skywarrior entered service was that of a bomber. It was convenient to have an airplane on board that could carry so many dangerous weapons.


True to form in those days, the Skywarrior used two low-bypass turbojet engines. These things sucked tons of fuel and were so loud. I can’t imagine being so close to one on the flight deck and not being able to avoid the immense sound that it made on its takeoff roll.

This airplane was utilized in the height of the Cold War, so I’m sure it gave everyone warm fuzzies knowing that it was on our side.


And this thing is old. During World War II, demand began for larger bombers capable of carrier up to 12,000 pounds of arsenal or a nuclear bomb from aircraft carriers. The A-3 was the result of such design demands, and it was wisely scaled down from a 100,000-pound weight to 68,000 pounds so that it could be used on present-sized carriers (rather than waiting for the approval and building of super carriers, which actually never came into existence).

After about four years of developmental testing, the Skywarrior entered service in 1956. Production ended just five years later. It served through the Gulf War before entering retirement, making it one of the longest-running airplanes ever in service by the Navy.


Meow! This is the F-14 Tomcat, which was made famous by starring in the 1980s movie Top Gun. The Tomcat came into existence after the failure of the F-111 project, which is one of my favorite airplanes. Failure isn’t always ugly!

After being first flown in 1970 and entering service in 1974, the F-14 led to the retirement of the F-4 Phantom, which had been heavily utilized during the sixties and early seventies. We get to see a Phantom later on this aircraft carrier.


I love that this particular F-14 was based on the USS Enterprise Aircraft Carrier. It just makes me smile thinking of all those Star Trek movies we watched as kids with Mom.

The Tomcat was designed to be a long-distance, high-endurance interceptor to protect our birds from the Russians. But it also needed to be a spry fighter jet to accommodate fighting MiG Russian fighters used against us in Vietnam. The F-14 successfully delivered on all of these requirements and was finally retired from the military in 2006.

The only F-14s still in use today are by the Iranian Air Force, which received Tomcats from us in 1976. Makes sense to me! *snort*


This is the portion of the flight deck that is used to help the airplanes land visually. Several carrier crew members use this little box to the left of the arriving runway to help the pilots know if it’s safe to finish their landing.

These telephones can connect to down below, since this area of the ship is also one of the two aircraft elevators that can put airplanes below deck and out of the way of flight operations.


It’s been too long since I’ve seen Top Gun, but this is the part of the ship that gives those visual and aural cues to the pilots when landing. You can see that they have all sorts of sophisticated technology to help out.

Just behind these monitors, you can see some of the wire fencing surrounding the ship. In case everyone on deck needs to bail because of a runaway airplane, they can safely jump “overboard” into these awaiting chain link fences. I hope that they were covered in something softer than chain link fences back in the day.

Although, if it’s between life and death, maybe jumping onto some harsh wire wouldn’t be so awful?


I just liked this view off the side of the ship. It is overwhelming to me how massive the USS Midway really is.


Well, hello, Mr. MiG. Just kidding. This is one of our F-18 Hornets painted in the Russian MiG colors. This was used in training exercises to teach our pilots how to spot and shoot down enemy planes.

In addition to training our own flight crews, this airplane could do it all! It was heavily used in tactical air-to-air fights as well as a air-to-ground target attacks and missile interception.


Look at those engines!

If the Hornet doesn’t look familiar to you, just imagine it in navy-blue and yellow paint. Since 1986, this has been the preferred-airplane-of-choice for our Blue Angles Navy flight demonstration team.


Like all Navy airplanes, the F-18 made a great carrier jet because of its ability to adapt in size while being stored on board a ship. See how these wings fold up? The wings are pretty tiny to begin with, so this was always a welcome addition on a carrier.

That, and it’s just a really awesome airplane.


Good afternoon, Mr. Phantom! I’ve already mentioned you above, but now you deserve your own boasting. What an incredible machine this McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom was!

The Phantom was such an adaptable and useful airplane that it was also used by the Air Force and Marines, though originally designed for the Navy.


Wow, it’s beautiful. Not only is this jet fast (2.2 Mach, anyone?), but it can carry almost 20,000 pounds of arsenal on board! The Phantom changed its day when it began flight testing in 1959…breaking all speed and altitude records held previously.

Perhaps its most important roles were played during the Vietnam War, where is not only participated in ground attacks but in all-too-important air reconnaissance as well. The Phantom was king in the Air Force and Navy throughout the 1970s and 1980s until eventually being replaced with the F-15 and F-16 in the Air Force and F-14 and F-18 in the Navy.


It was even used by the Wild Weasel Squadron during the Gulf War before finally entering retirement in 1996. That is quite an impressive lifespan for a military jet…over forty years!


I’ve always really liked the Phantom, and it was a true treat to see it in person today.


This pretty plane is the F9F Panther made by Grumman in 1947. It was the company’s first fighter jet and was the Navy’s first successful carrier-based jet fighter. Though it came into existence too late to help in our World War II victory, the Panther was critical shortly after when it scored the first air-to-air kill of the Korean War.

With almost 1,400 of these guys flying over 78,000 sorties during its lifespan, the F9F was a wonderful addition to our military fleet until it was pulled from the front line in 1958. It continued to serve in small numbers throughout the 1960s.


Another cool thing about the Panther is that it was the first jet airplane to be used by the Blue Angels. Despite its slow speed, it managed to shoot down several Yak and MiG fighters during the Korean War.

The wings could tilt upwards to save room on board an aircraft carrier, where it spent most of its service. Can you see the hinges?


“T” stands for Trainer, and this T-2 Buckeye was heavily used in that capacity during its life in the US Navy. The Buckeye was built as the introduction jet airplane for student naval aviators.

Originally starting out in 1959 with just one engine, it was upgraded to two Pratt and Whitney engines with almost 3,000 pounds of thrust each just a few years later.


Every single jet-qualified Naval aviator from the 1950s to 2004 flew this airplane at some point in his training. The Buckeye was only just replaced completely as an intermediate trainer in 2008 by the T-45 Goshawk. 

That’s a pretty impressive run of service, if you ask me.

This is the C-1 Trader, built by Grumman in the early 1950s as an anti-submarine aircraft aiding the Navy. Soon it was given an even more important job.

Thought it wasn’t much to look at and the pilots were often teased for not flying one of the glory jets, the Trader played a crucial role in the United States Navy since it carried mail and supplies to and from the aircraft carriers.


Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, this workhorse carried up to 3,500 pounds of cargo and up to nine people from sea to shore. It wasn’t retired until 1988. I bet all of those fighter pilots feel pretty silly now, huh?


Built to be a cargo operator, the body is rather frumpy compared to other things on the deck today. But look at the size of those engines! This thing could haul!


While enjoying these beautiful airplanes today, let’s not forget that we are actually located in one of the busiest transportation and shipping bays in the world. This gigantic cargo ship came in while I was checking out cool airplanes.


And, to end today’s tour of just a few airplanes on board the USS Midway, we have a gorgeous view of some pretty airplane butts next to downtown San Diego.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the tour of the ship. Are you?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...