It’s been a while since my last visit to our friends in Kansas. I need to get back and see them soon. Our first visit there was a dramatic one. We had gone to the movies to see War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise. At the beginning of that, there is a scene of what looks like lightning striking but it repeatedly hits the same place. In the film, that is noted as being unnatural. As we left the theater and drove home, a storm started raging around us. The lightning was striking frequently and seemed to be in the same places. Uh oh!
We got home and stayed inside as the storm reached its peak. I have always loved thunderstorms and this one was outstanding. I watched the lightning striking around us constantly. I decided to take some pictures. Photographing lightning is normally tricky to do. If it is dark, you can go for long exposures and hope to get the lightning in some of the shots. If you have a lightning trigger, you can let it do the work. In this case, you didn’t need either. I just shot out of the window and the chances were that there would be some lightning in the shot. It was crazy. Here are a couple of shots looking out of a bedroom window!
One nice aspect of traveling a lot for work is that you periodically find yourself near to your friends and can make a visit. A recent trip had me not too far from Wichita and needing to spread the trip over a weekend so I was able to pop up and visit Steve and Alysia. On the Saturday, Steve had a suggestion for something to do. It was the Kansas Aviation Museum. What on earth made him think that I might like that I wonder?
The museum is based at McConnell Air Force Base. It is located in the old civilian terminal building that has just undergone an extensive restoration. There is quite a collection of aircraft both within the building and outside. Given the major role that Wichita has played in aviation, it isn’t surprising that they have a lot of material to work with. Displays are in place throughout the museum along with some learning exhibits focused on a slightly younger audience so we obviously didn’t play with them.
The smaller and more delicate types are inside the terminal. This sometimes means they are a little cramped being fitted in wherever the building will allow them to go. The larger stuff is outside. You can walk out amongst them. The 727 and 737 are not too surprising –many ex FedEx 727s are now scattered around the US – but the B-47 and B-52 are nice to see. I never knew that Beech made a jet version of the Mentor. That’s because there is only one of them and it is on display although not in great shape. A Starship is always a nice find and an early Learjet is welcome too.
The old tower is open and a climb up there gives a good view across the displays as well as across to the KC-135s on the ramp of the base. The Boeing hangars are extensive although now dormant and the Spirit factory is just off behind you.
There is a lot to see. The tower would be a fun place to be when the field is busy too. The collection is possibly in need of some extra attention just to keep the basics together. Museums like this are always struggling to get volunteers in to keep everything going so I wish them the best and hopefully they will be able to sustain what they have going.
It has been a while since we last went to Wichita in Kansas. We have good friends who live there and who we have visited before. However, they have been on the move a lot in recent years and then we had to cancel a trip when things got a little hectic. However, we finally got back down there again. It was a great visit so thanks for having us guys. While we were there, we took a walk along the Arkansas River. Opinion appears to vary on how to pronounce this river depending on which state you are in but the joy of writing rather than speaking is that you won’t know which way I said it so you can’t tell me I am wrong!
There is a split in the river near where we parked and there are a pair of bridges and an island with a large sculpture on it. This is called the Keeper of the Plains. It is a very impressive steel sculpture of a Native American with his arms raised to the skies. Given plenty of time, I would have come back and seen it later in the day. I am not sure if it is illuminated at night but it certainly was very impressive during daylight hours. If you are in the area, do take a look.