My Western Trip Part~7

18 Jun

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites


Bright and early the next morning I drove down to Port Hueneme, CA to visit the U.S. 1Navy Seabee Museum. This museum preserves and displays historic material relating to the history of the Naval Construction Force, better known as the Seabees, and the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. During World War II, approximately 250,000 Seabees passed through the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) at Port Hueneme, on their way to or from Europe and Pacific Theaters.  Among many other tasks they were asked to perform, over the course of the war, the U. S. Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDU) working closely with the Army Combat Demolition Units (ACDU) were instrumental in removing much of the hazardous materials and obstacles from the beaches in advance of the June 6, 1944 Normandy Invasion.

On my way to Los Angeles to visit several museums in that area, I stopped at the Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, CA to link up with Chuck, who provides mockup modern jet aircraft for the movie and TV industry. My museum guide indicated Producers Air Force had several aircraft, so I was expecting real aircraft. But interestingly, what Chuck does is provide mostly mockup cockpits of various fighter jets for close-up scenes with the actors. His aircraft are full scale mockups, usually from the nose of the aircraft to just behind the cockpit, with fully operating canopies and all the cockpit instruments and controls, including real ejection seats. It was a real education talking to Chuck and hearing all about how he provides the industry with what they need.2

 Chuck had to go to work, so I proceeded on into Los Angeles to visit the Griffith Observatory. DiVoran and I had visited Griffith Park and the Observatory back in the early 1960s when we lived there, but it was a shock to see how many people were there3 that day. Cars were backed up halfway down the mountain waiting for a chance to find a parking space. I went into the lobby and took a look at the fascinating Foucault Pendulum, which was introduced in 1851 by French physicist León Foucault, as the first simple proof of the rotation of the Earth in an easy-to-see experiment. I walked around the outer domes and got a view of the smoggy L.A. basin and the Hollywood Hills.

That was about all of the crowds I could handle, so I headed down town to Exposition Park to check out the California Science Center. The Science Center was a wonderful experience, as there were many displays that interested me. At the top of the list, was the Space Shuttle Endeavour . Aircraft displays, inside and outside, included a 1929 Velie Monocoupe, a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, a replica of the Bell X-1 that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in, a Northrop F-20 Tigershark, a Northrop T-38 Talon, and a beautiful Lockheed A-12 Blackbird two-seat trainer (60-6927), stripped of its black finish, and gleaming silver in the sun. Manned Spacecraft included Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Space Capsules, Pioneer 10, Mariner IV and Venus probes and a prototype of the Viking Lander.




—–To Be Continued—–


One Response to “My Western Trip Part~7”

  1. divoran09 June 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    Bill always amazes me with his knowledge and attention to detail.


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