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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Heat, Smoke, Fire

Friday night after work I went out with Kiersten, who I've known for years but only recently has been closer than San Diego. Getting to know her in person was - not too surprisingly - more like going out with someone I've known forever. Her dietary choices made things a little interesting, but she was all for Italian and we eventually managed to find [Louise's] in Brentwood. After dinner we both called it an early night since she had been up all night studying, and I had an early morning the next day.

Saturday morning was waking up around 7am and getting my gear together before running out the door to get Jill. Traffic was surprisingly bad up the 405 and 14, but I managed to get to Lancaster only about 45 minutes late. Jill didn't complain, didn't mind, and was more than understanding.
Needless to say, Jill rocks.
25 miles after that, we passed the sign marking the entrance to [Edwards AFB], home of the Air Force Flight Test Center. The Edwards Open House is always unique. Most airshows are just a few local performers and then the majority of the flying is done by pilots who do just airshows and have a set routine - like the Blue Angles, the Stoli/Red Bull MiGs, etc. Same thing at each show, 200 shows a year. Edwards is almost exclusively flown by the test center pilots using test center aircraft. You will see the aircraft the US will be putting into service in the next five to ten years right in front of you, and you can talk with the crews that test them every day. It's definitely something you can see nowhere else in the world.

The [B-1 set a number of new world's records yesterday], as did the C-17. The [F-22] did it's first public flight demonstration with an F-16 flying chase, and the F-16 had trouble keeping up. Seeing the F-22's very wide performance envelope in person was impressive. Not only could it turn on a dime at low speed, but it could accelerate almost instantly. It's probably responsible for a lot of UFO reports!
While Jill and I were checking out Geek Hangar 2's Wright Brothers display the B-2 did a low, high angle of bank flyby right down the flightline. Few things will make my jaw drop quicker, and Jill pushed me back outside.
"No no, go watch your airplane! I'll be right here!"
Did I mention Jill rocks?
So yesterday was a great day. I'll probably post more on the airshow itself tomorrow once I've taken care of a camera problem.

Coming back from Palmdale at night I could see the fires in the hills near Santa Clarita pretty clearly. It looked like Hell had opened up and was devouring the black sky. It looked like the hills were bleeding, all you could see was licking, almost dripping red. Since Friday afternoon all of Los Angeles west of those hills has been filled with smoke and ash. Today the visibility at the beach was maybe 100-300 feet until you were right up at the high tide line. The whole town smells like licking an ashtray.
The ash and smoke do make for beautiful sunsets, and tonight I was treated to the dolphins that hang around Venice coming in very close to feed, and the younger ones doing jumps and flips to catch their dinners in the shallows.

Overall, one great weekend.

10/26/2003 06:24:00 PM ] [  0 comments  ]
A good quick laugh