Friday, November 5, 2010

The Intrepid

Yesterday, my neighbor and buddy Rachael and I visited the Intrepid museum over on the west side of Manhattan. It is AWESOME! Please, everyone, go to this museum. And please allot a lot (ha!) of time to spend there as well. You'll want it. Because it's awesome. Really. Just go. Right now. Stop reading this and go. Now.

Okay, if you didn't listen to my advice or it is after business hours, I'll tell you a little about it. The Intrepid is a navy aircraft carrier that served in World War II, Vietnam, the Cold War, and as a recovery vessel for NASA. After it was decommissioned in 1974, it officially became The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum and was open until 2006 when it underwent two years of repairs. It just reopened last November on 46th street and 12th avenue. I thought that it was basically a big boat with planes on it. Until we got there. The price of admission ($22) includes the museum in the carrier, a walk-through of the mazes of decks around and through the carrier (go to the gun deck - it's fun!) , a 4D motion ride theater, well over two dozen World War II planes and helicopters, a submarine (The Growler) that you can walk through, a tour of a Concorde, and an A-12 Blackbird (as far as I know, two of the fastest planes in the world). So cool. Even if you don't know anything about planes, ships, or submarines, it's still really cool. (I just happen to have grown up on an Air Force base, so it was ultra cool.)

There is no way that I can blog about all of the fabulous things I learned and saw in my few hours at the museum, so I'll just touch on a few things that I enjoyed. First of all, the best part about the entire museum is that there are very friendly and knowledgeable people wearing red jackets standing in multiple places throughout the exhibits. Their job is to answer any questions you might have and tell you interesting facts. Use them! They have tons to say, but you have to talk to them first. We walked by a red-jacketed woman talking to a French couple in the navigation room of the Growler. That submarine is REALLY small, but we overheard that there were 88 men stationed on the ship (women still aren't allowed on submarines in 2010) that didn't see the light of day for 2 months and only got one shower per week. (Can you imagine the stench?). The woman in the red jacket kept talking, but we walked on, feeling that we were interrupting the French people's conversation with her. On the bridge of the Intrepid itself, we finally decided to talk to a bored-looking young woman when she asked if we had any questions. My first question was answered pretty quickly. "Yes, this is the main steering wheel of the carrier and yes, you can play with it." The woman answered my second question with a smile and she started to brighten up. "That's a clinometer. It measures how level the boat is so they know if aircraft can safely take off. Do you know what that is next to it? That's a voice tube. The captain talks into it and the tube leads down two decks to the navigation room. They use it instead of an intercom system. There were about 3500 people on this ship when it was in commission. That's pretty small. Usually carriers hold more than 7,000. Do you know this boat was in the movie I Am Legend? . . . " and so on. She was a bubbling fountain of knowledge and was so excited to tell us everything about anything we wanted to know. Brilliant! We walked away with our heads brimming with fun nautical facts.

We were a bit cold, so we went in to the museum and watched a
demonstration of the catch and release system that's used to land the planes onto the carrier. If you don't know about it, look it up. It's crazy. Basically, the plane has a hook on the back of it and tries to hook these huge wires that are attached across the carrier to slow the plane from 120 to 0 mph in 2 seconds. Just in case they don't hook a wire, they have to gun the engine the minute they land so they can take off again. Terrifying!

Now, I know that I'm just spouting facts that you may or may not want to know, but that's how excited I am about what I learned at this museum. So, the long and the short of it is that this is one experience that you shouldn't miss. Oh, but I have one more very important piece of information for you. Don't, under any circumstances, wear heels. Just FYI. Trust me.

1 comment:

andrea said...

dying to go here..I've never been!