Technically we visited them the other way around, but we found the Joe Davies Airpark accidentally when we were looking for the Blackbird Airpark, so Blackbird gets the priority.
This trip was an object lesson in something that Thomas and I discovered when a friend came to visit us in the mid-90s. And it was in the mid-90s, both chronologically and meteorologically. We took her to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and were dragging her around showing her all of the cool things we’d noticed about the buildings and the grounds during our own visits. She was more interested in the air conditioned parts, like the bookstore. The next day we took her to the botanic gardens and she was enthralled with the plants and the gardening techniques. She had a long conversation that I was completely unable to follow with one of the workers about something horticultural. Meanwhile, Thomas and I were about to keel over from the heat.
While she was talking to the worker, Thomas turned to me and pointed out that when we were at the missions, we didn’t notice the heat so much because what we were talking about was interesting to us but she was miserable. The next day, she didn’t notice the heat but we sure did!
And our trip to Palmdale definitely was an experience along those lines. I mostly noticed the heat. There was a little picnic shelter that was the only shade around and so I hung around there as long as I could before I returned to the rental car and sat with the engine and air conditioner running. Going out into that southern California desert sun made me feel even more like Gollum than usual. And the summer sun does a pretty good job of that regardless of where I am.
Alex, on the other hand, had a blast. Which was my intent. Alex is an airplane buff, so this side trip was for him specifically.
The reason why there are two open-air airplane museums in such close proximity is Plant 42, which 20-ish miles southwest of Edwards Air Force Base. Near as I can figure, Plant 42, which manufactures top-secret aircraft, is actually part of Edwards Air Force Base, despite the distance. The space shuttle Enterprise (which Alex and I saw at the Intrepid museum in New York City) was assembled at Plant 42.
The claim to fame of the Blackbird Airpark is that they have not just the SR-71 Blackbird but its predecessor, the A-12. At first Alex was disappointed that the place we ended up didn’t have even one Blackbird, let alone two, but I got onto Google and found that we were next door to where we wanted to be. So I ventured out into the summer sun to see if there was an easy way to get from one to the other. And there is. There is a gate in the fence between the two parks.
So Alex got to explore both airparks while I hid in the air conditioning, first in the car, then in the minimuseum/gift shop once we got to the Blackbird Airpark side of the fence. As we returned to our car, I made a quick detour because I’d been seized with a desire to take a picture of the B-52 at the Joe Davies Airpark, even though The B-52s were named for a beehive hairstyle, and not the airplane.
Since I didn’t really explore much, I may ask Alex if he’d like to do a guest post.