By lex, on June 9th, 2010
1) It’s quite beautiful, actually. Rolling meadows and live oak trees, placid rivers and broad bay vistas. Things that look green look like they’re supposed to look green and – unlike other places of my recent acquaintance – not like they’ve been heroically dosed with reclaimed water to make them attempt to look green.
2) The Maryland highway patrol are pretty much everywhere, stealthily cruising in their unmarked Fords with their Smokey-the-Bear hats on.
3) The weather has been quite nice as well.
3a) Apart from last night, when a sudden squall of drunkenness set in for a few hours there at the Tiki Hut.
3b) Which, don’t let their otherwise inherent nerdiness and general unwillingness to make eye contact fool you, for network engineers are a naughty set of dissipated debaucheries when away from themselves. Multiple shots of Patron, heaven forfend and I’ll never drink again. Until tonight, maybe, but only in moderation. Because thirst can be a terrible thing.
4) Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland is quite enormous and summat of a well-kept secret. It took an act of congress to get prior permission to land there back in the day, and now I know why. They were keeping their little jewel out of sight of the proles.
4a) I never much had the hankering for to be a test pilot back in the day, for Naval Test Pilot School was rumored to be academically rigorous (read: stultifying) and the actual flying was ordinarily made up of such dramatic and exciting events such as timed accelerations in level flight, stall handing and rate-of-climb tables. Followed by a lengthy report that no one ever read. Driving around the base today I almost regret not giving it a shot, but my “school” preferences ran towards those that had “weapons” rather than “test” as modifiers. I guess I could have compromised and gone to a weapons test squadron, but that’s water under the bridge.
4b) Anyway, the landing pattern was a veritable flying circus, what with the inevitable FA-18s of all variants accompanied by T-2C Buckeyes, T-6A Texans, a tilt-rotor thingamajig, a solitary, mournful P-3C Orion and divers rotary winged aircraft too pedestrian and commonplace to catalog.
4c) Also, got to visit the BAMS-D, otherwise known as the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator, essentially one of two Navy Global Hawks purchased to do risk reduction efforts for the Northrop Grumman program of record and slightly reconfigured for maritime search. Wingspan of over 100 feet, endurance of greater than 24 hours and equipped with multiple sensors of various sorts, not to mention an almost embarrassing superabundance of line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight radio links. Fricken thing is yuge, and the POR system will be even yuger.
4d) Despite the fact that it was designed for preliminary test and evaluation, Admiral Shortney got wind that they were sitting at PAX and now one is sitting in the Gulf, you should be glad you get to keep even one.
4e) Admiral Shortney can be very persuasive.
5) On a three day airborne networking conference, there are often break-out sessions built into the schedule. If you find yourself unbroken-out there happens to be quite a nice little golf course.
5a) Bring your own sticks, for the rentals are mere hallucinatory simulacrums of proper golf clubs.
6) Now I gotta go, the chow bell rings.