I got to San Diego a day early for ISAP. There is often a chance to get out and about on the day before and some of the other attendees will do the same. Consequently, it is possible to hook up with a few folks and go exploring. I managed to get together with Bonnie and Gary (see the previous post about their visit to Chicago) as well as Larry.
As people who were heavily involved in the preparation for ISAP, there were some things that they were going to have to do to set up everything for the arrival of the majority of the attendees. That meant any trip we made would have to be back by mid-afternoon but that allowed us to make a trek down to the waterfront in San Diego to go around the USS Midway.
The Midway is a retired aircraft carrier that is moored in the harbor. It has a self guided tour that takes you around various parts of the ship to get an idea of what life aboard an aircraft carrier is. (Of course, wandering around a relatively empty ship in harbor is not the same as being at see with a few thousand of your closest friends for months at a time!)
There are a number of preserved aircraft through the hangar deck and up on the flight deck so there is plenty to see apart from the ship itself although that is fascinating in itself. Getting there shortly after it opened meant it wasn’t too crowded. Even as the time went by, it still didn’t seem that crowded to me and when I was on the lower decks, I was often the only person I could see.
The tour provided lots of interesting details about the way the ship operates along with a number of historical references to its time in service. Built shortly after the war, the ship has gone through a number of major updates to get to the point at which it was operating fast jets into the 1990s.
There are some nicely restored aircraft throughout the ship of varying vintages. The oddball for me was the F-14 since that was too large to operate from this class of carrier so it would never have been to sea on the Midway. However, that is really a minor issue. Besides, hanging out in San Diego Harbor on a sunny day is hardly a bad way to spend some time.
I had a lucky break which I nearly blew. Having grown up in the home of the hovercraft, one thing I like to see is hovercraft around the world. The Marines operate the LCAC hovercraft for landing ashore and have a base for the LCACs just up the coast from San Diego at Camp Pendleton. Given the opportunity, I would like to go up and photograph them at work. That wasn’t practical on this trip but, while up on deck, I heard a loud noise of a prop. At first I thought it was a sound effect from a display on the ship. It was only too late that I realized an LCAC was transiting the harbor.
If I had been quicker, I might have been able to move from the stern of the ship (closest to the shore) to something closer to the open water. Sadly, this was not to be. Instead, I ran to the LSO platform and managed to grab a quick couple of shots of the LCAC as it passed. Not what I would have hoped for but certainly better than nothing.
Once off the ship and getting ready to head back to the hotel, we bumped into a couple of other attendees for the symposium. Obviously, a sunny day by the water is considered a good idea by many!