So what is it that I found about 30 miles south of Elkins, WV? Why it's the The National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia.
Green Bank, sit at the center of the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, an area in which radio transmissions are sharply limited in order to "facilitate scientific reasearch and military intelligence". (Read: "Because of this place.") As a result, Green Bank, population 143, has become a haven for people who believe that they are affected by electromagnetic transmissions from cell phones and other Wifi devices, which are barred in Green Bank. Yes, some of the people living here actually moved here just because of that. Like thirty of them at last count.
43-meter telescope, currently being used by MIT to study the ionosphere.
Jansky Lab, where these telescopes are developed, maintained and operated. The other notable building, seen below and to the left of it in the shot, is the museum and vistor center, and it's open to the public.
I headed back to the northeast, following the mountain valleys and flying off of the VOR recievers instead of the GPS. The GPS makes things too easy and I've gotten shamefully out of practice on using the VOR, so this was a refresher flight for that.
Half an hour later, I was back at my home airport, where the winds were now a ninety-degree cross-wind at 11 knots, gusting to 14. My old 172 is rated for a maximum crosswind of 15 knots so this looked like another great if improptu training opportunity. I came in with just ten degrees flaps, crabbed and upwind wing down, and I was all set to firewall the throttle and execute a go-around if it started to get stupid, but I somehow managed to set it down right on the centerline with hardly a squeak from the tires. What a great ending to a great flight. Time aloft: 4.1 hours.