Tuesday, 30 December 2014

DAY 19 - Speed Freaks

Hi all, greetings from Atlanta, Georgia and the delayed blog for Day 19, which all took place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The day kicked off with the usual breakfast which followed a great sleep-in until around 0900-ish. First item on our agenda was a trip out to check out the famous Metamorphosis Sculpture and fountain by Czech Republic artist David Cerny. The Sculpture is a 30' (10 m) tall, 14 tonne stainless steel head divided into slices that rotate (though they didn't during our visit). It is located in the north-west of Charlotte not far from the airport.

Speaking of airport, I suspect you are all getting a little edgy over my lack of aircraft photos taken on this holiday. I had heard that Charlotte Douglas Airport had an impressive area for spotting called the Airport Overlook, so of course we checked it out. I must say that that in terms of airport spotting vantage points, this one takes the cake. The airport itself is the 24th busiest in the world (in terms of traffic), so there are lots of opportunities to see aircraft. The range isn't huge, with lots of regional jets and the occasional Lufthansa Airbus A330, plus the Air National Guard has a C-130H Hercules Unit operating out of here.

The best thing (and strangely obvious) aspect of this is that you are situated high above the security fences and have a wide ranging vista that doesn't just take in Runway 18C but a vast array of taxiways and the general apron areas including the cargo area. The area also has benches, picnic tables and ample nose-in parking again with unimpeded views. One thing working against us; however, was the weather which was very cold and wet. The wind was also blowing left to right meaning that we could only really capture the take-offs, which was fine, but the landings would offer and even better view of the aircraft. Here's some pics:

As you can see, the weather was pretty average. This photo also gives you an idea of the unimpeded vista
Following this, we headed to the other side of the airport to check out the Carolinas Aviation Museum which contains the famous US Airways Airbus A320 N106US which crash landed in the Hudson River under the control of CAPT Sullenberger after hitting a flock of birds shortly after takeoff. It is an example of excellent airmanship and crew resource management. This picture here may help remind you.

But the museum also houses some other interesting stuff including an F-14D Super Tomcat, an AV-8B Harrier, a D-558-1 Skystreak, a stunning Piedmont DC3, a CH-46D Sea Knight and lots of other stuff both inside and outside. On the negative side, the stuff that is housed outside is fenced off and curiously oriented to prevent good photos of some of their treasures, for example a beautiful Douglas DC-7B painted in Eastern Airlines colours is hidden to the back of the other aircraft. The display for the US Airways A320 is brilliant, though difficult to capture in its entirety.

Sopwith Camel

Boeing PT-17 Stearman

Douglas DC3

Douglas DC3

McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier

Savoia Marchetti S.56

Grumman F-14D Super Tomcat

Grumman F-14D Super Tomcat

'Miracle of the Hudson' Airbus A320-200

'Miracle of the Hudson' Airbus A320-200

McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier

LTV A-7E Corsair 2

'Miracle of the Hudson' Airbus A320-200

McDonnell Douglas F-4S Cockpit Section

Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak

Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak

Douglas DC3

Schuyler and Kyle revisiting the past

Douglas DC-7B

McDonnell Douglas F-104B Voodoo and Convair YF-102 Delta-Dagger

Lockheed EC-130E Hercules

Following this, we then headed into the city to see the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Even though we aren't exactly NASCAR fans, this was a must-see. The amount of famous cars and brilliant displays, including interactive displays was amazing. From the Glory Road which is a step through time from the earliest NASCAR days to the most modern, comprising 18 cars as though they were on a race track. I suspect that both Todd and Matt Hill would be most interested in this museum, but honestly, even non-devotees of NASCAR like us, would love this museum and should see it.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina

This is designed to give you an idea of how steep the oval tracks can be

Maureen behind the wheel

Kyle behind the wheel

  Me behind the wheel

Schuyler behind the wheel...what the?

Josh behind the wheel

This is the rig that determines the legality of the NASCARs in terms of profile, size and shape

I don't think these guys know what a workshop is

A skinned NASCAR

Glory Road
To round off the day, we stopped for a shake at a historic Dairy Queen Restaurant, and also caught some city lights.

Dairy Queen

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

We then had dinner then headed to Time Warner Cable Arena to watch an NBA game, the Charlotte Hornets play against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Milwaukee Bucks won the match which is interesting because so far in all of the NBA matches we have watched to date, the home teams have all lost.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand for the National Anthem

The view from my seat

The Hornet's Coach advising the play

For Sal
Well that was all for our time in Charlotte. I must admit, it was nothing like I had imagined. It's a pretty city with lots to do. Between the Charlotte Douglas Airport Overlook, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the US Airways 'Miracle of the Hudson' Airbus A320 we certainly felt like speed freaks.

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