Tag Archives: nebraska

Strategic Air & Space Museum

Ashland, Nebraska

Atlas, in front of the Strategic Air & Space Museum

I have driven across Nebraska several times, but hadn’t stopped by SAS, which lies alongside I-80 just west of Omaha. The Curator and I made the short drive west on Saturday to check the place out. It was thoroughly worth it. The hangers are huge, and the collection extensive. The museum offers an 11am guided tour, and we landed just in time to explore the collection with a wonderful volunteer.

SR-71A "Blackbird"
The first plane one sees upon entering the museum: SR-71A “Blackbird”

Still considered the fastest plane ever built, the SR-71 was a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft, whose top speed is still classified today, although it does hold the speed record of the New York to London flight: 1 hr 55 min. It has a cruising speed of 1,320 MPH, ceiling of 80,000+ feet, and a range of 3,000 miles.

B-17G "Flying Fortress"
B-17G Flying Fortress

A heavy bomber introduced in 1935, over 12,000 B-17’s were produced up until 1945, with 4750 of them lost on combat missions. It has a maximum speed of 287 mph at 25,000 feet, and a range of 3400 miles.

A-26B "Invader"
The A-26B “Invader (front) and a B-36J “Peacemaker” (background)

The A-26 “Invader” is a medium attack bomber manufactured between 1941-1945. Maximum speed 373 MPH, cruising speed 284 MPH, service ceiling 30,000 feet, range 1,400 miles with 4,000 pounds of ordnance.

The B-36J “Peacemaker” is a strategic intercontinental bomber, of which 385 were built. With a wingspan of 230′, and a length of 162’1″, the B-36 has a maximum speed of 435 MPH at 36,400 feet, cruising speed of 391 MPH, and a service ceiling of 45,200 feet.

B-25N "Mitchell"
B-25N “Mitchell”

Almost 11,000 B-25 Medium Bombers were manufactured between 1940-1945. The museum’s B-25 had been restored to specifications of the Doolittle Raiders’ bombers. Doolittle led sixteen B-25’s on a bombing raid of Tokyo on 18 April 1942. Launched from the carrier USS Hornet, without fighter escort, the B-25’s were to land in China after bombing Japan. Fifteen of the bombers made it to China but crashed, one flew to the Soviet Union.

HU-16B "Albatross"
The HU-16B “Albatross”

The Grumman Albatross is a utility transport and air/sea rescue amphibian aircraft. Able to land on sea or land, the Albatross has a maximum speed of 270 MPH, a cruising speed of 225 MPH, and a service ceiling of 21,500 feet.
One of my personal favorites, although I’d be completely satisfied with a “Goose”.

B-29TB "Superfortress"
The B-29TB “Superfortress

The B-29 “Superfortress” was the most advanced heavy bomber to see combat in WWII. 99′ long with a wingspan of 141’3″, the B-29 has a maximum speed of 357 MPH, a cruising speed of 220 MPH, and a range of 3,700 miles. Service ceiling is 33,600 feet.

After the tour ended, I had a chance to talk to the volunteer who had just given us the informative tour. We started to talk about places I’ve visited and museums I have wandered into. Now, I consider myself fairly well-traveled, but The Volunteer, who was into his 80’s, had been all over the world and he scolded me a bit for not getting out even more. “What are you going to do? Take it with you? Might as well spend it now and get out and enjoy yourself. What are you waiting for?!
I think it’s the first time in my life that I’ve been told off for not traveling more!
Bless his wonderful heart.

The Strategic Air & Space Museum. Check it out the next time you are zipping across on I-80.

Aircraft specs credit: Strategic Air and Space Museum

Baxter Arena

Omaha, Nebraska

Baxter Arena
Heading into Baxter Arena

The Curator and I made the trek across Iowa to see some weekend hockey in Omaha. This is the inaugural season for the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Baxter Arena. The UNO Mavericks were hosting the Miami of Ohio Redhawks, for a two game series in an NCHC matchup.

Baxter Greeter
The Baxter Arena Greeter

The $81.6 million Baxter Arena is a very nice hockey facility. With great sight lines throughout the arena; there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. I have no doubt that the rink will really rock during big games with the Mavericks’ devoted and rabid fan base. A wider concourse would have been nice, since it can be a challenge getting around the corners during the intermissions, but other than that, the Baxter is a beautiful new rink.

UNO & Miami during warmups
UNO & Miami during warmups

The Friday night game started out slow, with UNO seeming to be a tad flat. Still, the game was even-played with the first period being scoreless, and an 8-7 SOG advantage for Miami. The second period Miami really dominated play, with UNO still playing sluggish. Miami had a 15-6 advantage in SOG for period two, and took the lead on a Kiefer Sherwood goal. The Mavericks came out much stronger in the third, and Austin Ortega tied the game up on a shot assisted by Luc Snuggerud & Jake Guentzel. Ortega, the junior forward from Escondido, California, already holds the school record for game winners and the NCAA single season record for GWG’s, and is quickly closing in on the NCAA career record for game winning goals.
Tonight, however, Matthew Caito of Miami would net the GWG with just over two minutes to play. The Redhawks would also add an ENG for a 3-1 win.

Jay Williams made 27 saves for Miami and freshman Alex Blankenburg, in his first home start, made 31 saves for UNO. There were 6793 in attendance.

Meet at the Platte

Sandhill Crane Migration Routes

The migration routes of the Sandhill Crane. Map courtesy of USGS

McCook, NE

Worth the effort…

… But come hungry.

Stopping in McCook, we hit the Loop Brewing Co, which is in the converted, historic railroad depot.
The recommendation came via a rather round-a-bout manner, but at least it paid off.

Prairie States

After doing the pre-run check on The Rover prior to leaving The Puddle in Kansas, the host paid me a visit. I guess the camping around “The Racetrack” was free, and the host encouraged me to stay 4-5 days to “enjoy the place”. He was genuinely disappointed to hear I would be driving off within minutes. Nice guy, somewhere in his 80’s, and I sort of felt bad dissing his park, but it went away as I tried to check the rear diff fluid level and not get stuck by broken glass.

When I started up again, it was still 88 degs and by the time I hit Stockton, KS it had dropped down to 77, but The Rover ran well.

I met up with two whitetails on Hwy 183 with a death wish. I should have nailed one with each wing, but the high beams allowed me to stop in time and the deer simply blinked at me in the bright lights. I kept going until I approached Kearney and I-80, where I pulled over for the rest of the night.

The trek across Nebraska & Iowa went easily in the drastically cooler air. I did hit a cross-headwind in NE that kept me from being able to use the overdrive which drove my mileage down to 11. In general however, it varied from 12-14, which is what it did the previous year. Still… Disappointing & not what I’m looking for.

West of Des Moines, I man came up to me while getting gas and asked where in Alaska I was from. When I told him, he said he had lived in Valdez. Then he went on to ask me if I knew several people up in Alaska, and was taken aback when I claimed to know none of them. I then confessed that “I was a bit misanthropic,” which only confused him further, but he continued to talk to me.