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  • Michael Krakovskiy 2:09 pm on March 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Albert Einstein, Charlie Taylor, food courts, , Lovecraftian Costco warehouse, , , Mythography, , , Spirit of St. Louis, Swastika, Symbolism,   

    National Air And Space Visit 

    While in Washington, I visited the National Air and Space Museum. It is like some kind of Lovecraftian Costco warehouse filled with a mix of priceless artifacts encased in layers of plexiglas and cheezy recreations, carnival-like educational attractions, and disguasting food courts and kiosks.

    Overhead, like beached whales or a giant boy’s toy models, hang famous air and space ships. They have just about everything you could think of – Spirit of St. Louis, Space Ship One, a Brietling Orbiter, even the original Wright Flyer. They all look lifeless and sad, especially the spacecraft.

    I was a bit overwhelmed by the craft collection, but it’s the little things that I enjoyed seeing the most. They have, side by side, Nestler sliderules that used to belong to former z/k Korolev and former Sturmbannfuhrer Von Braun. Missing is the Nestler that used to belong to Albert Einstein. I also wonder who now owns the two two-copek coins that were Korolev’s lucky charm. I also wonder if Von Braun used to have a lucky charm.

    The only remaining piece of the original Sputnik – an arming device that was removed prior to launch, an equivalent of little strips of paper you sometimes find in remote controls and other battery-powered gadgets.

    It was interesting to notice how many aircraft were put together using slotted instead of philips screws, like these huge ones on the Soviet ICBM.

    I don’t know why, but I stood for a good while admiring the hypnotic twists of a handmade screwdriver that used to belong to Charlie Taylor, Wright’s mechanic.

    Soviet space kitch collection is vast: from magnetic Mir-flown chess (something of a 70s vintage space look to them)

    to all kinds of space crappers (a low-tec suction bulb is probably safer where your privates and vaccuum are involved).

    The nose cone from the Spirit of St. Louis is signed on the inside, but you have to cram yourself into an uncomfortable niche to see the swastika and signatures of well-wishers, including Wrong Way Corrigan. Apparently early aviators frequently used not yet befouled by Nazis swastikas as good luck charms.

    One of the last things I saw, a crazy looking British pusher airplane had such an amazing Star Wars look that I maybe even gasped a little.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:55 am on July 21, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Dublin, fewer non-sports heroes, , Grace Hopper, Grace Murray Hopper, Investment, Ireland, , , Spirit of St. Louis, Steve Fossett, Steve Fossett and Co., , The Spirit of St. Louis, , , , USS Hopper   

    Dare and Do 

    Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper coined the expression “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Just that alone justifies naming a ship and a park after her, but she did a few extraordinary things and coined some other expressions as well. Her motto, “Dare and Do” is also rather inspirational.

    Unfortunately I do not own RADM Hopper’s autograph, but I have the next best thing. You see, a Brooklyn-based aviator and mechanic, one of the builders of “The Spirit of St. Louis”, Corrigan became famous in his own right by practicing Dr. Hopper’s prescription. He modified his own plane for a transatlantic flight, but spent years battling the bureaucracy. Finally he took off from Floyd Bennett field on a trip to California, but due to a “navigational error” (which he never admitted to be a ruse) ended up in Dublin, Ireland. Amused and impressed New Yorkers gave him a ticker tape parade, the Post printed a headline in reverse and for the rest of his life he was know as “Wrong Way” Corrigan. And here’s an autograph from my collection:

    Corrigan and Hopper were born and died around the same time. They were a part of the Greatest Generation (by the way “American Generations” articles at Wikipedia are outstanding). Did something die with them? Why is the Canyon of Heroes so infrequently hosting ticker tape parades? Why didn’t Burt Rutan, Steve Fossett and Co. get one? Are there fewer non-sports heroes or is my generation, or is this all a result of the decline of the ticker tape machine?

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