Local Heart, Global Soul

October 20, 2014

This Old Lady Was Once Faster Than a Speeding Bullet…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In my last post from the Fleet Air Arm Museum in the town of Yeovilton, England and when we entered this massive hall even Kiwi Daughter got excited.

Here in the museum there stands a Concorde aeroplane. This is amazing, only twenty of these planes were ever made and of course I never ever in my wildest dreams ever got to travel in one of these whilst they were still in service.

Himself and I do have an old friend who, when he knew Concorde would be going out of service, spent a ridiculous amount of his savings on a one-way trip from (I think it was Paris) to New York, and even though it’s a fast trip it was certainly one flight that he didn’t waste time trying to sleep on.

Our friend was disappointed that he could only afford a one way journey on Concorde and said that the economy flight home on a regular aircraft was rather a surreal experience in comparison, but he figured that as a single guy he could indulge himself a few very special experiences in life and that ticking this off his bucket list was one of the craziest and best things he’d ever done.

He had told us after his flight that in contrast to popular perception, the seating for such expensive seats was rather cramped, but that the meals and drinks were such top quality  he didn’t care. When we entered this plane and got a glimpse of the actual seats it was a shock at just how small the area was that such a pricey ticket bought you back then.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The seats were only on one side of the plane, the other side was barely wide enough for the aisle.

We were all shocked at how narrow the plane was on the inside, even the kids mentioned that it seemed to be ridiculously skinny.

It was a strange feeling to enter such an iconic plane and to look around,  this one was fitted out at a later date for scientific research so I’m not sure how much if the instrumentation on display is from that time or remained from when it was in service, but everyone had a disbelieving giggle when they spotted the emergency escape rope ladder stashed by one of the doors… I mean, seriously???

Yikes, apparently so.

I can still remember the day, years ago, when Concorde visited Christchurch airport in New Zealand and I joined tens of thousands of other Kiwi’s crammed around the perimeter fences getting a glimpse of it coming in to land.

It looked so different to any other plane we had seen and I vividly remember the gasp that went through the crowd as it came into view.

We leave the beautiful form of Concorde behind and head out to to the restaurant so that we can then deal with the appetite that our walking around has generated.In fact lunch disappeared so fast the photographs were forgotten. As we leave, more aircraft come in to land and Little Mr needs to be dragged back to the camper… all of us are pleased to have visited here, we all enjoyed different things but agreed it was well worth the detour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 11, 2012

An Amazing Interactive Space…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The European Space Agency (ESA) was created in it’s current form in 1975 and was a merger of  ELDO (European Launch Development Organization)  and the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO).

The new ESA  was joined by various cooperating states, ie. Canada, and completed several joint projects with NASA, making and launching  the worlds first high-orbit telescope which operated successfully for 18 years.

Later would come the extensive Ariane programme, co-operation with the US Space Shuttle, Spacelab mission, The Hubble Space Telescope.

However the Mars Express orbiter in 2003 and it’s lander Beagle 2 was the first fully European mission to any planet and the ESA Huygen probe landed on the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon in 2005. The Columbus laboratory was launched in 2008 on the Space shuttle Atlantis for work on the International Space Station and the list goes on.

Today their activities include testing signals from the Third Galileo Satellite and monitoring the polar ice-caps from space and studying ice-loss and now even measuring and monitoring the depth of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere (also decreasing).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The exhibit starts off with a dimly lit hallway filled with massive panels depicting stunning space photographs, and opens out into several halls where there are interactive activities galore.

One of the biggest is a mock-ups of an Ariane Rocket and uses skilful use of computers, lights and with dry ice to represent the smoke, to simulate a count-down and launch. During the process a film plays inside the rocket legs to give information on the unfolding drama.

I watched with Little Mr as the countdown reached 00:00 and both us startled a little as the coloured lights came on when “lift off” commences because it looked remarkably like fire at first.

A little gasp and a giggle later we settled down to watch the show.

There is also an amazing map floor area that’s both huge and interactive, similar to Google Earth you can zoom right down to where you live in the Netherlands if you wish.

All around us are displays …too many to document individually here… lots of them interactive to delight both young and old. The kids streak ahead from one exhibit to another whilst I bring up the rear, joining in and taking photos as I go.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s also what looks like a piece of the Space station where astronaut living quarters are on display… it looks rather sparse inside, surely there most have also been tons of equipment stashed into these spaces? Also the model gent in the bed looks like his legs have been amputated at the knees, that cubicle doesn’t look nearly long enough to sleep in… mind you maybe that doesn’t matter if you can also catch a nap sleeping upright in another section in weightless space.

The other model gent looks decidedly uncomfortable as he “floats” horizontally through a hatch from another section… but gravitational issues on earth aside, the kids like this section a lot, not least because Dutch astronaut André Kuipers was actually in space at the time of our visit and his mission has been in the Dutch news quite a bit.

There’s even a life-sized cardboard figure of André Kuipers outside the module and both our kids stood as proudly with it as if it had been the real man himself. In fact they berated me for wanting to stop taking photographs of them with “him” even after I’d taken more than 30 of them!

Naturally knowing me and this blog there is one question raised that also promoted interest…
But  that  topic is for tomorrow… let’s check out a few of the things we’ve seen so far…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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