Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SF Bay Area Geek Flyover!


Discovery had her #SpotTheShuttle trend, and my new pal from SpaceUpSF took me on a #SpotTheGeekStuff trip of our own!

With Pilot Rick!

So it's like this. I met this pilot on Twitter. No, really. We then met at a conference a few months later, whereupon he was kind enough to lend his flying expertise so we could enjoy all the great geek spots the Bay Area has to offer!

Rick @JetForMe had me report for nerd duty at Tradewinds Aviation at Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose, where I was introduced to my first Cessna. I know all the jaws of my longtime friends just collectively dropped because I agreed to get on a plane, given the lengths I go to in order to avoid ANY type of flying machine.

NASA Ames from the air...
The National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC)
(Fancy name for "Heap big wind tunnel where we test aircraft"!)

Let me just say that these planes don't climb high enough for me to experience ear pain or illness from pressure. I'll probably never be "comfortable" in the sky, but as I told Rick, I'm at the age where I've begun to believe that when you fear something, you should run toward it instead of away.

Well worth it! Flying all around NASA Ames and identifying the many historic buildings and test facilities was of particular interest. Of course, Hangar One is visible for miles all around, but on closer approach, I got a whole new appreciation for the Lunar Institute, Wind Tunnels used in aerodynamics research, NASA's newest green building known as Sustainability Base.


Another great feature of our area is the 46-meter Radio Telescope in the Stanford foothills, off the Stanford Dish Hiking Trail, built in 1966 by the Stanford Research Institute. Look at the size of that thing compared to the surrounding buildings!

Called simply "The Dish" by locals, I was reminded I've never actually visited the darned thing on the ground. My next order of business should be seeking out some of these spots either for leggy or brainy exercise in the future.

Largest Linear Accelerator in the World!

Only a few seconds away from The Dish (by plane travel speeds, anyway) is the amazing Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)... also now called the "National Accelerator Laboratory", the allegedly "straightest object" in the world.

On way back, we also had a view of the University of California's Lick Observatory, on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose. Our last nerd monument before landing!

To see the entire set, which also includes San Francisco, Alcatraz, the SF Bay and other angles of NASA Sustainability Base, Hangar One, etc., see my Pillownaut Galleries on Picasa!