Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Intrepid-post from Rob

I went to visit the incredible Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum yesterday morning (Monday) which is mounted on the navy aircraft carrier USS Intrepid which saw action in WW2 and in Vietnam. It is an amazing platform of technology although it has been decommissioned since 1974. It also looms very large beside the Circle Line Ferry Terminal on the bank of the Hudson R. at 46 ST. The exhibits made me think about what incredible things we as a race can build (ignoring it for its military significance). This awesome structure is almost as high (if it was stood upright) as the Chrysler building (912 feet long) and is about the same height as a six story building at least.

I enjoyed seeing all the sleek looking planes on the deck; this one was flown by the 'Blue Angels', an acrobatic part of the US Navy that was meant to humanise the power of these machines for the masses (a guess). I think it is a bit of PR for them to try and make people forget the amount of money that is spent building and maintaining all this equipment. What could the same amount do for a National Health Care System?

Here is the Lockheed A12 Blackbird (below) which is truly a beautiful piece of sculpture that flew spy flights in the late fifties and early sixties (a CIA initiative). It is a magnificent thing to see and is unlike any other exhibit as it would fly at 80 thousand feet at three times the speed of sound (faster than the Concorde). The titanium skin was needed because of the immense heat that built up around it when travelling at such speed. I was simply struck by its beauty as an object but it had a menacing feel about it as well. Easy to see where it got its name.

I thought that this was a different view of NYC from the ones we had been seeing, from the driver's seat of the carrier.

I enjoyed seeing the Concorde which was apparently planned for flights in 1973. However it did not get off the ground until 1976, by which time the Brits and French Governments apparently had given them to British Airways and Air France for 20% of the individual development cost per plane. By 1976 all the orders for them had dried up because they were already outdated technology. Concordes cannot carry cargo so they had to be at 100% passenger capacity to even break even, so I was told!

The Iroquois helicopter was a work horse as I recall during the Vietnam war and and I think they are still in use in Australia. I remember seeing footage of the US pushing them off the side of an aircraft carrier (a bit of house cleaning) after the fall of Saigon in 1975 as they headed for home.

This is the USS Growler submarine (below); it was a diesel electric sub that carried four missiles with nuclear warheads. You can see an example of one on the deck. Horrifyingly we were told that one warhead was four times as powerful as the combined power of the two bombs dropped on Japan in WW2. I hate to think of what they have in their stores now.

This sub was only in service for 6 years (1958 to 1964) as the technology of launching missiles from under the ocean overtook it. It apparently used to live off the coast of the USSR.

Back to reality. While walking back to meet Jude along 8th Avenue I came across all these big film production vans and quickly realised what it was all about. So keep your eye open for me as an extra in an upcoming series of Law & Order; maybe!

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