Index Road Bridge

I mentioned the bridge in Index in a previous post and I thought it deserved its own post.  The bridge is relatively new having been built in the late 1990s.  The road to the town in on one side of the river and the town is on the other so the bridge is pretty important!  There is a rail bridge too, but the road is the way for most people since the trains don’t stop anymore.

It is an arch structure.  The roadbed is suspended from the arch by a selection of cables.  These come down in pairs from the arch and into the bed of the bridge.  The structure is steel and, whether it was assembled on site or elsewhere, you can clearly see how the sections were assembled with the bolts through plates at each of the joints.

The arch shape is attractive and the symmetry of the bridge when viewed from the end is also very nice.  Because the area is not too busy, they have not cluttered things up with too much fencing to segregate the pedestrians from the traffic so the whole thing has a simple look to it.  A nice job by some engineers!

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NASA Gulfstream STA

The Evergreen Aviation Museum has more aircraft than it has space to display.  Some of them are parked out in the parking lot including a NASA Gulfstream II.  This is no normal GII either.  It is one of the four Gulfstreams that NASA had converted to act as Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA).  They were used for the shuttle crews to practice the approach and landing phase of a mission when the shuttle was gliding (very steeply) in the atmosphere.

The main gear was deployed to increase drag, the thrust reversers were engaged in flight and the flaps could be moved up as well as down to modulate life.  One seat was set up as a shuttle pilot station while an instructor sat in the other.  Many practice landings could be carried out using the STA fleet.  They also provided a secondary transport function.

The aircraft is currently in a rather ignominious position in the parking lot and it will hopefully find a better permanent home.

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Waves on Cowes Seafront

We drove along the seafront from Cowes to Gurnard.  The tide was high and the storm was bringing a swell in from the west.  Consequently, there was a lot of water along the road with sections under a few inches.  Some caution as we drove and we could get through.  Meanwhile, the waves were bashing in to the wall and splashing high in the air.  With the wind being so strong, it was tricky to hold steady for a shot and I was also a bit vulnerable to getting a lot of spray in the face.  However, I managed to get some shots and some video while minimizing how damp I got and how much salt water got near the camera.

As a kid, I always loved being down on the seafront when the weather was stormy.  It is way more fun to watch the waves crash in than to see a calm sea.  This proved to be a perfect day for me to visit as the following day things had calmed right down.

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Great Scot!

Dassault make some very elegant looking jets.  The Falcon 7X is a particularly good looking one in my opinion with perhaps the only issue being the extension of the fin below the tailplane which looks a bit like a fix for something.  This example was at Boeing Field heading out.  I don’t know where it lives because it has a Manx registration which means it could be from almost anywhere.  I did like the rest of the registration, though.  I hope they are Scottish rather than just someone called Scott!

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Storm Brian Means Time to Windsurf

My trip to the Island was in the middle of Storm Brian.  It was lashing some parts of the country and the western end of the Island was apparently getting some serious wind but the east side was enjoying a bit of shelter.  That didn’t mean there wasn’t still some strong wind and a decent amount of wave action.  What better time for someone to go windsurfing?  Actually, several people were windsurfing.  One of them was close to where I was standing on the shore and, as he went out, he was running against the waves but with the wind behind him.  I was hoping for some big jumps off the waves but, while there were jumps, they were not too big.  He was certainly braver than I would have been though!

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Blackbird Motor

The SR-71 that is located in the Evergreen Aerospace Museum is configured to give some interesting views of the aircraft.  One side of the aircraft is opened up to show the engine.  The whole of the outer portion of the wing folds up to give access to the engine.  I had no idea that was the way it operated until I saw this plane.  It does show the engine configuration nicely.  At the high supersonic speeds, there is a bypass process whereby a lot of the flow is taken around the core.  The pipes for this can be clearly seen along the side of the engine.

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Lost Lake PassivHaus

On one of our hikes while in Whistler, we came across the Lost Lake PassivHaus.  This building was the home of the Austrian Olympic Team during the Winter Games.  After the games were over, it was converted for new uses.  The interesting thing about the house is that it is designed to have minimal requirements for energy with no heating and cooling.  It is aimed at using 90% less energy than a normal building courtesy of building techniques and materials.  It sits at the entry to some trails so a lot of people get to see it.  I am curious as to how many people stop to read its details.

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Missile Load Training

The open day at the Portland ANG base included a demonstration of missile loading.  A jet had been parked out on the ramp for the morning and there was a rack of missiles also on display.  Towards the end of the morning, a team started to prep the jet for loading.  This was an exercise that had multiple purposes.  It was a demonstration for the guests, but it was also a qualification test.

Apparently, the crews are required to carry out a loading drill every 90 days when they are timed and observed in order to maintain their qualifications.  Therefore, a pair of observers were there to watch the three-person team do their work.  It can’t have been fun to have the public watching and the assessment team overseeing you at the same time.  The crew got to it though and they seemed to be diligently following every procedure which is no bad thing when you are potentially dealing with live weapons (not that these examples were in any way live).

The missile configuration was quite a mix.  They had six AMRAAMS to load, four on the fuselage and two on the stub pylons.  The other two stubs were fitted with an AIM-9M and an AIM-9X.  The Sidewinders were loaded by hand but the AMRAAMs are heavier and required the use of a mechanical loader.  Prepping the plane before the missiles came close took a while and then the missiles were loaded in sequence with things like fins being added at different times such that some were on before the missile was attached and some were added once it was installed.

Once the whole task was completed, they reversed the process and removed the missiles.  There was some choreography involved with getting the loader in place.  It is not a subtle piece of machinery, but it could be placed quite accurately.  Then there is adjustability in the rotation and position of the missile holders to allow things to be fine-tuned into position.  Maneuvering a missile on to the rail or the launcher while not hitting anything else also requires some careful work.  It was a most interesting process to watch.

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Red Funnel’s Finest

If you want to get to the mainland from the Cowes area, Red Funnel are your main option.  They have two services to Southampton.  The car ferry operates from East Cowes while a fast catamaran provides a passenger only service from West Cowes.  Both types of ferry came by while I was on the seafront.  The car ferry headed out while the cat waited outside the harbor.  I guess the strong winds meant they were looking for a bit more space.  Once the ferry was gone, the cat came in to the harbor.

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This Needs a Few More Bits

Erickson’s facility at Medford was the home for this Skycrane while I was there.  A team were working on it and, I imagine, they were getting it ready for the coming fire season.  At this point, though, it was still in need of a few parts.  It looked a bit lacking but I suspect the process of adding the remaining elements to get it back into an airworthy condition was not going to take that long.  Hopefully by now she is back in the air and working hard.

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