A chance to see a 60 year old UFO fly doesn’t come by that often, so the big event this weekend was a drive out to the Palm Springs Air Museum to see the original N9M flying wing prototype fly.
The old Northrop flying wings are one of the few planes I still obsess over. I still vividly remember the flying wing scene from the 1953 War Of The Worlds (and the audience in the Orange Theater cheering when L.A. City Hall gets blown up) and getting worked up over something that looked like it stepped off of the front cover of a vintage SF pulp magazine. Cue a lifetime of general obsession over retrofuture technology that was just too ahead of its time to be of any practicality. Somewhere I still have a beat-up poster of the B-49 that lasted through three years of high school dorm living.
Anyway, one of the few remaining flying wing third-scale prototypes was restored a few years back and makes the occasional flight demo here and there. Even after all the pictures, films, etc. I’ve seen of it, I couldn’t help but sputter out an “illbegoddamned” when it took off.
The relatively new terminal at El Monte Airport (EMT) doesn’t have the old charm of Fullerton or Long Beach, but the outstanding breakfast at Annia’s Kitchen inside is the current champion. The best deal is the “Airport Special Breakfast” which loads you up with at least two of everything for $4.99
I’ve blogged about the Long Beach Airport (LGB) before – vintage terminal, free wireless, and happy times on JetBlue. I’ve never been to the cafe before though, so it was time for another round of coffee, pancakes, and bacon.
The food was your basic above-average diner quality and the wait staff kept the coffee flowing. The real winner though is the view out of the window where you’ve got a panoramic view of almost all airport operations. I could easily sit here, drink coffee, and stare out the window all day. Did I mention the free Wi-Fi?
Just down the street from the LGB terminal is the old McDonnell-Douglas aircraft plant. Boeing took it over when they they bought out McDonnell-Douglas and renamed the MD-80 descendants the Boeing 717. Boeing shortly phased out the 717 soon enough anyway. Still, the real tragedy is that the giant “Fly DC Jets” neon sign on the roof is no longer lit.
This week’s visit was to the Fullerton Airport (FUL) cafe a.k.a. Tartuffles. I’ve been there dozens of times before so it wasn’t any big surprise – yummy food, direct view of the tarmac, and pretty reasonable prices (the whole breakfast was $7.00 including coffee).
I’ve been obsessed with airport cafes lately (yeah, I know I know… “lately”) and I finally have a chance to catch up on some of the local places. First up is Nat’s Airport Cafe at Hawthorne Municipal Airport (a.k.a. Jack Northrop Field). The corned beef hash was perfunctory but amazingly inexpensive – breakfast barely cracked $5.
HHR’s terminal building is classically 1970s civic down to the zig-zag walkway shade out front and the big Saturn mural on the side. There free wi-fi if you need it and a small museum on the northwest side of the field.
SpaceShipOne notwithstanding, aviation milestones have been kinda boring lately – another billionaire flies around the world, etc. However, nothing is cooler than landing a mystery helicopter on the summit of Mt. Everest. More photos and videos on the Eurocopter site.
The Airbus A380 is getting all the press for being a mega-sized aircraft (albeit a delayed one now), but fifty years ago there was another double-decked aircraft that arguably set-aside gracefulness for double-decked haulage – meet the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.
I don’t mean to slag on the A380 though. I do love the neo-Kubrickianinterior. I can’t wait to fly one somewhere.
3. The ridiculously charming and catchy Volkswagen Jetta ad known as “Independence Day.”
4. The fantastically groovy 1966 cult German television show Raumpatrouille.
5. Logic System. YMO spin off band that circulates around moogsploitation, straight-up technopop, and leftover tracks from the Cosmos television series. I somehow picture this playing at a western-themed truck stop in Japan somewhere.