Friday, April 13, 2018

Head In The Clouds

 The other day we found ourselves in a situation where we just didn't want to be in the house. We also had places to be on Sunday morning so our travel radius would be limited to within a couple of hours drive. So on a Thursday night, the night before we left, we decided to go to San Diego. Again. 
  I typically like to have some type of plan before I leave for a trip and on this occasion we had none. The only thing that we knew we were going to do was have breakfast at Cafe Coyote in Old Town. Eating there has become a must do, a tradition, if you will. They have what we think is the best Mexican food anywhere so we never miss an opportunity to eat there. Other than our breakfast we didn't finish planning our Saturday until that very meal. There it was decided that we would head over to Balboa Park to visit the San Diego Aerospace Museum.
  I had wanted to visit the aerospace museum for a couple of years now but it had never really worked out. This was unfortunate because I really enjoyed this museum and I should have visited sooner. Here the museum follows the history of man and his conquest of flight. From thin canvas wings strapped to crude wooden frames all the way to today's advanced fighter jets and space craft, you see it all tightly displayed for your enjoyment. This was a fun way to see the evolution of flight and there are some interesting artifacts mixed in that I really enjoyed seeing. 
  The Apollo IX command module greeted us in the main lobby. Yes a craft that visited the cosmos and returned sits under lights that highlight it's scarred and scorched exterior. The interior of the capsule is cramped; the seats uncomfortable and the thought of having to live in an area the size of a closet with three of your closest friends is daunting. But that's what it took to get to the moon. To me it is a truly amazing feat of mankind and to have the chance to see such an important artifact is a privilege. 
 There is another piece in this museum that I found very interesting is actually very easy to miss. It's tucked upon a shelf  on the opposite side of a display of the German zeppelins. I almost passed by it but as luck would have it, the red piece of canvas drew me in and I stepped up to get a closer look. One small tag with one paragraph described what the fabric was. It is an approximately one square foot of charred canvas that was part of the Hindenburg, the German airship that caught fire while trying to dock in New Jersey in 1937. The disaster killed 36 people that included 13 passengers, 22 crewmen and one man on the ground. The accident marked the end of airship travel.

One more exhibit that caught my attention was a New York/New Jersey Port Authority police car that was dispatched to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Until recently the car had been in storage in untouched condition before being put on display at the aerospace museum. It's part of a first responders display and was interesting to see in person. Everyone remembers where they were on that day and they won't forget it. For Misty and I we not only remember that day but we also celebrate our wedding anniversary on that day each year (we married on 9/11/99.) The car is in pretty good shape considering what it went through but the evidence of it's rough day is apparent when you are up close to it. I imagine for most people seeing the car will make you stop and the memories will flood back and a little sad emotion will creep into your heart. It did for me. The car is a reminder that we are still healing and that despite our differences today, we will never forget.

There are of course plenty of other exhibits to see at the San Diego Aerospace Museum but I can't possibly mention them all here. These few exhibits were the one's that I found the most special but the only way for you to see them all and find which exhibits are special to you is for you to visit the museum yourself. So if you ever find yourself looking for something to do during a trip to San Diego, may I suggest you head over to this museum. If you dream of flight, you won't regret it.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A New Toy

 Do you ever see something that looks really cool and fun but after you buy it, you find out that it isn't really that cool? Well, a drone isn't one of those. Recently we picked ourselves up a new Mavic Pro from DJI to add a little more depth to our videos and to see what all the hype was about. This is what we learned.
  First of all, until a few weeks ago I had only flown small helicopters that cost around $20 to $50. The tech in those types of units are very limited and the batteries last around five minutes if you're lucky. Not a lot of time to get the hang of flying. They are also very hard to keep in the air for long which is why a kid only plays with the goofy thing for about a week before it gets set aside to collect dust. They just aren't fun. Well, I now know that a nice drone makes a huge difference. The Mavic has been very easy to get the hang of and is way more fun to fly than it should be. The controller resembles a video game console controller that adds to the ease of use for those of us that grew up playing video games (and they said games were useless.)
  The fact that you have to register a drone is somewhat annoying but I understand it. A lot of people aren't willing to do the research into the proper procedures on how to do things and by going through the registration process you learn some important facts. Mainly, you are sharing air space with everything that flies. Spooky. These drones can fly quite high and the last thing I want is to cause issue with a helicopter or a plane. In fact, one of the things about drones that I didn't know was how difficult it is to find a place to fly them, in California at least. There are a lot of helipads and small airports scattered everywhere that you must call and communicate with in order to fly within five miles of. Here in SoCal a lot of these five mile radius' overlap and in short, makes it a hassle.
  Once you find a place to fly, you'll never want to put it down. The day we took the Mavic out for the first time we went through three batteries as my dad, my wife, my son and I took turns getting the feel for it and we were disappointed when the fun was over. I got a little more flight time in our recent trip to Moab, Utah, but the winds kept flying to a minimum. You'll see that footage in an upcoming YouTube video.
 Over all, I'm very happy with our new tool, yes tool. This really isn't a toy, after all. I'm very excited about getting more flight time and perfecting my aerial photography/videography. It's an exciting new hobby that I wish I had gotten into long ago.
 Join me again on Friday when I begin to recap our experiences at this years' Easter Jeep Safari. See you then.