Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Our second day in New York City was a very busy one so I'm going to break up the posts in order to keep the videos to a manageable size. We had an agenda for the day. When we booked the trip we purchased an online voucher for City Tickets, a book of discounted tickets for a variety of touristy kind of stuff around the city. One of them was for a circle tour of Manhattan, a boat cruise around the island; one of the "checkmarks" of things I've always wanted to do. The cruise didn't leave until later in the afternoon so we decided to walk down 7th Ave to 42nd Street and then over to Pier 83 from where the boat departed. This was our MO in New York, walk from location to location and discover what we could along the way.

Our route took us down to Time Square again and we were able to take some shots in the daytime, getting a good view of the ball that marks the count down to New Years. Dick Clark was not present, but I did think I spotted Ryan Seacrest huddling over a steam grate mumbling "does my hair look good"

One of the advantages of giving your time to wander and doing it on foot is what you discover on the way. Just south of Broadway we came across a restaurant that would later have some signifigance to us; it it hadn't been 10 in the morning, we surely would have had some ribs and beer at BB King's Blues Club; anyone who knows us understands that
We knew that down at the same pier from where the boat cruise departed there was something called the Sea and Air Museum; we decided to check it out before we went on the cruise. We were expecting some sort of building down at the pier, what we didn't expect was that the museum was housed on a boat ... well not a boat. A ship. A rather large ship. An aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid

There was a 24 dollar price for admission which at first I was reluctant to pay (yes that squeaking in your ears is indeed my wallet .. hey, stop looking at my wallet!) but common sense and Collette prevailed: Dude, how often do you get to explore a real honest to god aircraft carrier, even a decommissioned one. As it turns out, it was money well spent
The Intrepid was a true fighting ship with long service through World War II and right up till about 1975. It was originally opened as a museum ship in Philadelphia then moved to New York in 1982 and became the Sea and Air Museum. They begin to refurbish the Intrepid in 2006 and we saw evidence that that process is ongoing. Besides the Intrepid, the pier featured the supersonic Concorde ..
... as well as The Growler, a diesel powered strategic submarine
You are able to board each the plane and the sub (for an extra price) but I wasn't interested. I couldn't see investing money just to go aboard a passenger plane that wasn't go to take me some place and although the sub interested me, I couldn't justify paying to see if my claustrophobia would kick in. Maybe next time.

The Intrepid offered us enough, as it turns out. We started on the Flight Deck; it was cool to just walk on the deck of an aircraft carrier but there were many many different kinds of aircraft to look at. Helicopters included a Coast Guard Sikorsky S-62
A US Navy SuperCobra
and a Bell UH-1 Iroquois among others
Of course there were many jets as well. There are over a dozen aircraft up on the flight deck and we had a perfect sunny day to observe them all. They selected aircraft that represented the entire span of the carrier's long service. From 50's era MiGs that the Intrepid fought against ...
... to the A-12 Blackbird, a Cold War era spy plane
All of these aircraft had flown from, or against the Intrepid during its history

There was more, of course, to the Intrepid than the flight deck. I went up into the Island, which is the ship's superstructure, it was incredibly claustrophobic. You'll see in the video a few shots from the command bridge where, during combat, 12 men served; very very very friendly men one must assume.

One floor down from the flight deck is the hanger deck, a 13,000 square foot space where once planes were prepped for flight then lifted up to the flight deck on huge elevators. There is a lot on display there, including one of the carrier's huge propellors.
And of course there were several aircraft down there, including this Hurricane
Besides launching aircraft the Intrepid also participated in the American space program. It fished both Mercury and Gemini space craft out of the ocean; it also of course retrieved exotic alien space craft but those weren't on display, that has all been covered up ... THIS POST HAS BEEN EDITED BY THE US STATE DEPT AND THE MEN IN BLACK
From the exotic to the mundane: A little display that gave you the sense of what it must have been like to have to actually live aboard an aircraft carrier. The plastic case in which these bunks were placed was only slightly smaller than our hotel room
There were a lot of interactive exhibits on the hanger deck including this a little Bell 47 helicopter that you could climb into. It was the same kind of chopper featured in the TV series MASH. The kid was blonde so he couldn't be Alan Alda, perhaps Wayne Rogers discovered a time machine, in search of his career
The Intrepid was definitely worth the price of admission. There were many volunteers all over, many of then Navy vets, who were always willing to talk to me and answer any questions. Sometime later this year they are going to mount the space shuttle Atlantis on the flight deck ... I'm assuming the alien saucer will be somewhere around the poop deck.

Here's the video. Next up: Our three hour boat cruise around the entire island of Manhattan

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