Saturday, October 21, 2006

Trip to Wendover

I got a chance to visit Wendover UT/NV last monday and see the sights. [ahem] Yup.

Wendover is not ideal in the economic sense since the nearby town stays afloat on a weak trickle from casino money, but the ideal sights for my airship project are priced way out of my range. Cities like Tustin have exactly what is needed, but their tax needs trump and there are no clear areas nearby.

The airport on the Utah side is actually quite interesting if you are thinking of flying things that need wide open spaces. The field at Wendover is essentially what it was from it's old days as a WWII training base. Much of the base itself has collapsed due to neglect, but don't blame the folks running the airport for that. The base was used to help train heavy bomber crews for the European conflict and later for the atomic bombing missions over Japan. The B-29 hangar at the east end of the apron used to house the Enola Gay.

The flats to the south and east are essentially clay. Get them wet and they make for a very sticky, clingy goo. You can't walk in the stuff without loosing your shoes and without them you'll wear yourself out walking a few yards. If you have to go out on it while it is wet, you have to bring the equivalent of snow shoes. Most people just won't do it. I'm told the salt layer starts further east, so it get's even more unpleasant if that is possible. Having said that, though, that is our ideal for testing airships. In the summer when it is baked hard as rock you can drive on it in any direction and not harm a thing. If you have problems, you set down and wait for help to arrive. The Black Rock playa in northwest Nevada isn't quite big enough for that and doesn't have the amenities Wendover has. I'm going to have to learn to love the gooey clay.

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