Today he has been a fantastic day!, What started out as grey overcast weather turned into one of the most enjoyable flights in a long time. Departing Santa Rosa at around 9 AM we headed south south-east for the eastern suburbs of San Francisco and then avoiding controlled airspace into Moffett field which is a huge complex made up of the NASA Ames Research Centre. There was a layer of broken cloud at around 2000 feet and above and cruising just below 4000 feet was a perfect photo opportunity to take photos and video of that Pipistrel Taurus G4. The background was absolutely stunning and the video we have taken is breathtaking with the background, lighting and reflections of the aircraft being perfect. I would love to get some of this footage uploaded to the blog but a connection which is slower than dial up will not allow me to do it today so unfortunately this footage will come later.
This place has to be seen to be believed! One of the hangars is the largest freestanding structure on earth covering more than eight acres! Unfortunately it has not been used for some time and seems to be in the process of part-time demolition. Built of steel and toxic things like asbestos it has remained empty for many years, I was also told he can never be used again because it doesn’t meet current earthquake standards. In my opinion it is a tragic waste and would make a great Aircraft Museum. There is also mention of this and now underused facility being used for the 2020 world Expo event but because of the asbestos contamination it now looks unlikely. It is almost like a scene out of one of the disaster movies, there are buildings everywhere and very few people, this once would have been an active base to what I am guessing would be at least 10,000 people. Tonight we are housed in what is called the NASA Lodge…. This is a multiple complex of buildings which ones have served active military use as almost motel like accommodation.
Adjoining Moffett Field is the NASA Ames research facility which is still active and open today. I am told it has the world’s largest wind tunnel which is approximately 80′ x 120′, it also has a smaller wind tunnel which is capable of supersonic speeds. This whole area just reeks of history, there would be so many stories to be told in the history of this facility in the 75 years since it was built. Next to our lodge and just a short walk is locked up recreational centre, a bowling alley and so many other sporting facilities for the base members…. today, the active areas are lovingly manicured at the disused areas are slowly being overrun with long grass.
Just outside the front gate is a vast array of Silicon Valley companies including the most famous “Google” which are a sponsor of this year’s green flight challenge. A quick look on Google Earth shows multiple massive buildings just a few kilometres from the Moffett Field front gate and I am also told that Google is the only private aircraft allowed to fly at this airfield. Apparently, the cofounders of Google each have a 747 and various other jet aircraft available at their disposal in some of the large hangars on the opposite side of the airfield. Apparently, hangerage for their aircraft is $1.3 million per year ! (that is the most expensive hanger fees I have ever heard of).
Tomorrow’s programme starts at 7 AM with breakfast and then the Expo starts at 8 AM, open to the public it gives an equal opportunity from people in San Francisco and also in San Jose a perfect opportunity to visit the aircraft, check out the new electric technology and also ask questions of the pilots and engineers. Just before 12 PM (lunchtime) we get rushed off into a special exhibition area for the announcement of the winning teams from this year’s competition. Another sleepless night lays ahead as the excitement builds waiting for the announcement of the winning aircraft at this year’s Green Flight Challenge….. I have been told that NASA will be covering the presentation live on NASA TV and I will do my absolute best to get the winning aircraft information published as soon as I can!