Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fly Day!

Yesterday was such a nice day that I was able to get out flying again. Bruce, having nothing better to do and being a glutton for punishment, came along.

The first twenty minutes or so were "interesting" enough that I didn't get any pictures. We were hitting convective currents that had the aircraft bobbing up and down like a yo-yo or suddenly trying to go perpendicular to the horizon without warning. So because both hands were actually needed to fly the aircraft, no pictures got taken until we got down to Front Royal, VA, where those convective currents made for a seriously sporty landing that had Bruce looking just a bit nervous (as in "pulling the grab handle off of the side of the cockpit") but I still managed to get it on the runway and back off again without leaving any parts behind.

Normally I like this sort of challenge and would have stuck around for a few more shots at it, but I've learned over time to be sensitive to the feelings of my passengers, especially since when they barf, it's in my plane.

Here's a nice shot of the Shenandoah River, with Front Royal in the background.
And here's a close-up of the river, with my plane's shadow visible below...at least I hope that's MY plane's shadow.

And then, since we were in the neighborhood, we dropped by my friends at Mount Weather. Looks like someone is doing some new construction on-site.
Neat berm they've thrown up around it, either for privacy or security. Wonder what's that's all about.

And here's a nifty little secure compound within the overall secure compound that Mt. weather is.
That's a double fence with a clear gravel visibility zone in between them and just one gate on the west side.
And those three box-like objects you see there? Almost certainly massive air-conditioning chillers. Look on the roof of that big four-story building in the foreground and you'll see chillers on that roof. Look how small that building's chillers are compared to those monsters in the secure zone, that, to the casual eye, are on the roof of nothing. Well that should give you an idea of how large the underground spaces beneath this complex are. (The Wikipedia article claims 600,000 square feet.)

Here's another view.

And here's another "compound within a compound" on the east slope.
The building that looks like a church or a firehouse is one of the two main entry portals to the tunnel complex. But there's another one on the west slope that doesn't have that security perimeter around it, so there's got to be something more in this area.

I love watching this place and speculating. Just wait until I get a better camera.

(Hey Mt. Weather guys--this is what happens when your helicopters mess with G.A. pilots who are just flying past in the unrestricted airspace, minding their own business. Some of us get pissed and/or curious and come back again and again and again.)

Next, it was up the Shenandoah River into West Virginia, where this little blue house surrounded by evergreen trees set off both the "cat" and "liberal" detection alarms.

Sixty degrees out, but still a lot of ice on the water of the quarry below.

And here we are over Harpers Ferry, WV, where the Shenandoah River flows into the Potomac River, sixty miles above Washington, DC.
And what's that on the tracks? It looks like Mr. Peabody's coal train, heading back down south for another load.

And across the river to the north, the remains of the Union fortifications built atop Maryland Heights are just visible through the bare trees. Back in the day, they had some mighty big cannon up there that could dominate the town and river junction below, and every last cannon ball, bag of powder and cask of water had to be schlepped 1200 feet up the mountain from the river below. Not exactly a vacation assignment for the troops.
Give it a few weeks, and the leaves will render this all invisible until next winter

Another Harpers Ferry shot, just to point out all of the sediment in the rivers courtesy of last week's rains and snow melt. Normally, the water here would be almost totally clear.

Here's another train crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown.
If you look close, you'll see that it's twelve locomotives all strung together and no cars. Interesting.
I tried to get a picture of my favorite Thai place downtown but muffed the shot.

Then it was back into the pattern to land.

Here's two of the new little Boeing C-17 transports (left) with the last two Lockheed C-5a transports that will soon be heading out to retirement at Davis Monthan AFB's boneyard.

Short final for Runway 8. Air's smooth as glass now. I hate to land.
The C-5s again. I hated them when they came here but I'll miss them when they're gone.
Time to put the toy back in the toybox with another 2.1 hours on the Hobbs. Until next time.


  1. Nice, as always. And nice John Prine reference there, too. :)

  2. 2nd photo, what is the object in the lower left corner? Your ramp picture shows your C 172 with white lift struts.

  3. WSF, maybe it's that blue dress/white dress thing...

  4. It's my white strut, just looks blue because it's in shadow, I guess.

  5. Nice pics Murph, thanks for sharing!

  6. Always good to read your Adventures in Aviation!

  7. Anonymous6:37 PM

    Great Pictures Thank-you for sharing them

  8. Good pic's and a nice blog post. Your bird look's like she's been cleaned and waxed since last I viewed pictures of her.

    1. No wax, but I cleaned it up a bit last time we put it inside.

  9. Nice! And good that you got some 'airwork' in... Not every day can be smooth.

    1. I love a good workout, but it is tough on passengers. I at least have the controls and I can respond to the turbulence, but right-seaters just gotta sit there and take it.

  10. Fantastic. Sunday was like that, here. The last two days, though, one would have be crazy to buck those winds.

  11. Heh. Bruce has ridden with you in the Jeep. Don't see how flying with you could scare him and worse...

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  13. Thanks for the pics!