Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Barn for Beer and a Beautiful Bird

On Saturday while on my way to meet up with a group in Maryland, I made a detour first to a large barn in Manassas. Known as the Thomasson Barn, it has stood empty since the 1960's but is now about to be transformed into a brewery.
I had to be quick at this photo stop as I hadn't parked my car in the best of places. There was a large gap in the fence and the field was very boggy but I plodded through and quickly fired off some shots. I was also fortunate enough to have a red vulture sitting atop one of the silos to add to the atmosphere. This link explains about the history of the barn and this link is about what the new brewery has in store for the land. It looks like its taking the same route as many other breweries and looks sparsely industrial. Not my taste but it seems to appeal to many. I'm just pleased the barn is being saved as ever since I've lived in the region and driven past I've been saddened by its demise. I'm also kind of hoping it would have some dairy farming elements added to retain some of its original character but I'll just have to wait and see.
Pleased at having completed my project I then proceeded to the Maryland State Police Aviation Command Center in Frederick where we were being shown their latest addition, a 2013 AW139 helicopter, costing about $15 million fully equipped.
We were here to have our own private tour explaining the purpose of the fleet and for 2 hours our attentions were held captive by the crew of this chopper. It stood gleaming before us with all doors open so we could look inside at the controls and extensive equipment that it carried.
The high polish of the paintwork made me smile and I was very careful not to add any of my own paw prints to the finish. I remembered my times as a firefighter when we would spend hours washing and polishing our pump engine so it gleamed and sparkled on every turn out, and appreciated the work gone into this helicopter. I also knew that despite the comments I heard of how they polished the machine for us, I knew this wasn't true. This chopper would be lovingly buffed up after every use. These crew members were very proud of this bird.
One of our gang looking like he's hanging by his neck! I had no idea what he was actually doing...
One of the crew lifted the nose cone to show us the vast workings of the radar and cameras that sit underneath, a huge mass of wiring that I could only assume would be a nightmare to work with. This huge chopper cannot land on soft ground as the camera sits only about a foot high from the ground when stationary. Also the revolving 'eyeball' under the nose has infrared vision to see at night.
I kept taking photos of their helmets, I loved their design.
Showing us one side of the engine. A maintenance man is assigned to just this location to attend to the helicopter. It's checked, (preflighted), twice daily, once by him and once by the pilot.
The hook that attaches to the hoist, the main piece of equipment used for rescues.
I felt very fortunate to have had this private tour and was even a little envious of the residents of Maryland, knowing how professional and experienced this crew,and how advanced their equipment, was. I even asked about the possibility of an EMP attack and was surprised to hear that the chopper could still be flown without using its electrical components. But, the pilot would only have in the region of 4 seconds to make the switch to manual override!
There are 10 of these helicopters covering Maryland and here is a link for more technical details, I would never remember those!
Our tour was only supposed to last an hour yet it was over 2.5 hours later that we started to leave. The crew had supplied a wealth of informative facts and had answered all of our questions. They had been humorous and extremely accommodating, I'd have no compunction at all at having these guys as my rescuers. Maryland is in very safe hands.

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