Saturday, May 21, 2016

Have I discovered Area 51 East?

Once a month or so, the boys and I meet up at Cancun Cantina for beer and cigars.  We've been
meeting under their imported palm trees for years, and although the people have changed (we miss you Alvin!), the stories continue.

We normally get together on a Friday afternoon, but this week, because of my travel schedule, I kicked out a note asking if we could do it Monday... only to realize when I arrived that my guys are standing in the empty parking lot of a closed Cancun Cantina. No cigars tonight --but will have those beers elsewhere.

Back to the point... as I'm driving, I passed the observatory at the end of the runway at BWI.  I've driven past here hundreds of times over the years, and on sunny days, theres one thing in common.. a crew of folks under the trees --some standing, some sitting, with cameras with monster telescoping lenses... and I had always wondered why.

I'd made the mistake of turning right coming out of Cancun Cantina to head for the agreed-upon watering hole where my friends would undoubtedly be waiting for me (because I took the long way), and as I passed the observatory, I again, noticed the gathering of folks with really big cameras --and I had to take a picture. I don't know why, but it struck me. I needed a picture.

So... I turn into the observatory, pull out my phone, step between the cars and snap a quick shot. Of course, they spot me. I didn't try to hide, and as I snap off my second shot (I only took two), they began setting off car alarms around me. One of them (the guy in blue) turns his telescoping lens on me.

I have to wonder --are these guys just plane geeks, or is Northrop keeping something fun in the hangar that someone here's waiting to get a glimpse of??? My tinfoil hat is glowing red. Have I stumbled upon Area 51 East?  Or.. do these guys just really LUV Southwest Air?!

On sunny days, they're here all the time. I wonder if I'm the only guy who scratched his head and asked why. On occasion, there are some pretty cool planes that go in an out of here --I see them from the balcony at my apartment --I'm right in the flight path (I'm cheap).  But do all airports offer access like this? Are there really plane geeks that just for the love of it, snap pictures of every Southwest Air flight? Why?

My friends tell me I'm paranoid --but that's what I get paid to be. I want to know when someone is standing at the end of the runway waiting for something cool to come out --and if it does, and they get that series of shots with that really big lens, who's buying those pictures? And will they soon be sending more big camera guys for more? Or will we begin seeing intrusions into computer aided drafting systems and manufacturing and targeting of engineers? This isn't rocket science. There's a correlation between humans snapping pictures of airplanes and computer intrusions into those companies (and people) that build them... I could go on but for now, I'm taking the tinfoil hat off as my thinking begins to drift more toward Captain America and Iron Man this afternoon with my kids.


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OK folks...
Have a great weekend!