Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dryden NASA Social


Tweetups turned into Socials, and Dryden Research Center's first official gathering was a rousing success! What a ride!

Dr. Hugh L. Dryden would probably have been amazed at the frenzy created by these events, given his reputation for calm countenance... hmm, I wonder if he would have joined us on Facebook?

F/A-18 Fighter Aircraft
OMG! Chicken in the Cockpit!

I got to sit in the cockpit of an FA-18 Super Hornet twin-engine carrier-based multi-role fighter aircraft! And I really just want everyone in the world to know it. Thank you.

We saw, either up close or in slides & videos, many retired and active aircraft, so I kept the link to the Dryden Historical Aircraft Photograph Collection handy throughout the day in order to identify everything. It's a bit surreal to visit a largely isolated place where millions of dollars worth of flying machines are just sitting around everywhere! And even more surreal is that, by the end of the day, you've gotten entirely too used to it.

Edwards AFB
Mojave desert in California

Edwards Air Force Base is just east of the middle of nowhere, but SO well worth the trip to see a place not many people are allowed to visit. There were speeches, there were songs, there were many hours of walking and tweeting and ... wow, there was even a flight-suit fashion show.

We were treated to SONIC BOOMS, and a test pilot named Jim Less (his aviator callsign is "Clue", LOL!) performed a fast, roaring flyby in an F/A-18 just for our waiting cameras!

Afterward, we roamed from hangar to hangar to see currently used aircraft, new designs in the making by General Atomics, Northrup Grumman, McDonnell Douglas, and Boeing, plus many historical artifacts back to the Apollo era.

Test Pilot Helmet
Test Pilot Helmet!

We were allowed to sample flight food (tubes similar to those used on space missions), try on various helmets, board the CTV, mingle with research and test pilots, and of course meet many other aeronautics enthusiasts from all over the US!

After hours, we headed to the local test pilot hangout in Boron, CA for dinner and ... okay, singing & sombreros after a little tequila time ;)

Apollo LLRV
Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV)

Click on any picture to go to the full gallery, or click this link to see the NASA Dryden album in my Pillownaut Picasa site, which also includes last year's trip to the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale to see SOFIA!