Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Mojave Desert’s Airplane Graveyard- Mojave, CA

North of Los Angeles- Near the intersection of the 14 and the 58 freeway, you will notice to the southeast, LOTS of airplanes. I don't know the whole story, but there appears to be an active airport nearby, where jumbo jets fly in and out everyday. I suspect this is a jiffy lube for 747's. The planes themselves are fenced off, but the airport is open to the public. There are several very tall, thin hangars which look like they could have rocket ships inside or something. There is also an animal shelter in the middle of the airport. Very strange. Most of the planes are stripped of their windows and engines. There are several junked heavy-duty military planes, and I am guessing this used to be a military base.
This is a storage area for surplus and obsolete airliners. It is also a major site for aircraft modification work, research (Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShip One, has his facilities here) and test flying for commercial companies. The blue and white jet at the main entrance is an extremely rare Convair 990, a commercial failure from the early 1960's. This is also one of the few places in the US to see Vietnam-era F-4 Phantoms in operation -- they are turned into target drones at the BAE Systems hangar here. Mojave is a good place to see strange and rare aircraft, in addition to its proximity to Edwards AFB, the Air Force's test center with its own population of unusual planes.

Clingstone Mansion- Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

Clingstone, an unusual and such a vintage, 103-year-old mansion in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, survives through the love and hard work of family and friends. Henry Wood, the owner, runs the house like a camp where all skilled workers welcome. The Jamestown Boatyard hauls the family’s boats and floating dock and stores them each winter in return for a week’s use of the house in the summer.
Mr. Wood, a 79-year-old Boston architect, bought the house with his ex-wife Joan in 1961 for $3,600. It had been empty for two decades. Clingstone had been built by a distant cousin, J.S. Lovering Wharton. Mr. Wharton worked with an artist, William Trost Richards, to create a house of picture windows with 23 rooms on three stories radiating off a vast central hall. The total cost of the construction, which was completed in 1905, was $36,982.99. However, bear in mind that the currency in 1905 is not the same as for now. Possibly the price is estimated about $4 millions.
An early sketch of the house shows the plan on how they develop the greatest architecture. Mr. Wood is as proud as any parent of his house, and keeps a fat scrapbook of photographs and newspaper clippings that document its best moments. Many of the historic photos he has were provided by the company that insured the house for its original owners. The Newport Bridge is visible from the windows of the Ping-Pong room, to the left of the fireplace. The house is maintained by an ingenious method: the Clingstone work weekend. Held every year around Memorial Day, it brings 70 or so friends and Clingstone lovers together to tackle jobs like washing all 65 of the windows. Anne Tait, who is married to Mr. Wood’s son Dan, refinished the kitchen floor on one of her first work weekends.
There are 10 bedrooms at Clingstone, all with indecently beautiful views. The dining room table seats 14. Refinishing the chairs is a task on the list for a future work weekend. Sign by the ladder that leads to the roof reads “No entry after three drinks or 86 years of age“.
“It used to say 80 but we had a guy on a work weekend who was 84, so I changed it,” said Mr. Wood, ever the realist. It would have been a shame to curtail the activities of a willing volunteer.