The exterior of the Lone Star Flight Museum’s new building is now taking shape at Ellington Field-slash-Airport-slash-Spaceport, per an update this morning from Ed Mayberry. The museum posted the construction photo above late last month, showing some of the walls now in place on the 130,000-sq.-ft. structure rendered below:
Sure, drone footage is great. But how often do you get to see 3 flying laboratories survey the breadth of Houston’s sprawl from this high up?
The trio of WB-57s shown surveying a hazy Houston in the video above are based at Ellington Field. The fleet is part of NASA’s WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, which regularly conducts scientific research and testing. Among its missions: mapping, collection of cosmic dust, support of rocket launches, and flights over hurricanes, including recent storms Joaquin and Patricia. Eerie faded-Emerald-City scenes of Downtown, the Galleria, the Med Center, and other vertical standouts unfold beneath the wingtips. The flight, which took place before Thanksgiving (but for which footage was only posted to YouTube this week) marks the first time since the early 1970s that 3 WB-57s have flown together.
Renderings presented for the first time at last month’s Spacecom convention show the latest round of updated designs for the first phase of the planned spaceport campus that will nestle between the existing Ellington Airport runways and Space Center Blvd. in Clear Lake. The images show a campus that is notably more conventional than what might have been suggested by the curvilinear designs released in 2013. The new plans most resemble a suburban office park version of Thomas Jefferson’s plan for the University of Virginia, complete with surface parking lots tucked behind 2-story buildings stepped back from a central roadway axis.
By the time construction of its new museum, theater, restaurant, and hangar is complete 3 years from now, the Lone Star Flight Museum will likely be only one of 3 museums showcasing historic airplanes at Ellington International Airport. After Hurricane Ike caused $18 million in damage and destroyed or submerged several aircraft (see the immediate aftermath above), museum officials began seeking a higher elevation than its current location at Galveston’s Scholes International Airport was able to provide. Houston’s city council approved a 40-year lease for 14 acres at Ellington last week. Also possibly opening at Ellington: A building featuring the Collings Foundation‘s collection of Vietnam and Korean War-era military aircraft; the president of the Texas Flying Legends Museum at Ellington says he’d like to sell tickets that allow visitors to visit all 3 collections.
Did you realize that Ellington Field changed its name 2 or so years ago to Ellington Airport? Don’t worry if you haven’t kept up, because there’s already another name upgrade in the works, this time to Ellington International Airport. (“Intercontinental” was already taken). What’s next — Intergalactic? Maybe: Houston Airports aviation director Mario C. Diaz announced plans earlier this year to transform the commercial, military, and NASA facility into a “spaceport” where wealthy passengers could embark on leisure spaceflights — at about $50,000 a pop.
The Houston Airport System has found its first customer for some of those bales of hay you’ve seen lining roads leading to IAH. The hay-harvesting project began as a pilot using contractors 2 years ago, but airport employees are now doing the work.
Of the 10,000 acres that comprise IAH, 250 acres are presently being used to harvest hay and 50 of the 2,500 acres at EFD are being used.
Right now most of the hay is a low grade Bermuda grass mainly used to feed livestock such as cattle. . . .
When the hay project is finally in full swing some 2,000 acres of land at IAH and EFD will be used to grow hay, providing a projected revenue source of roughly $4 million dollars a year. Cutting and baling at the airports this year will continue until the fall.
500 round bales at IAH and 400 square ones at Ellington Field are currently available.
The two “Marking Our City” billboards near Grace Community Church‘s north and south I-45 locations depict a plain white cross, an American flag, and the words “150 FT CROSS COMING SOON.” But they probably show only the top portion of the structures the church is planning — and the 150-ft. label may be selling the project short. The Chronicle‘s Lisa Gray says
. . . the pastor hopes both structures will be 200 feet tall, roughly the height of a 20-story building. The Federal Aviation Administration, he said, may limit the south campus’s cross to 150 feet because it’s near Ellington Field.
Five-and-a-half minutes into the Grace Community Church video above, Grace senior pastor Steve Riggle walks viewers through a drawing of a more elaborate structure. Riggle asks
What if there was one of these at every entrance to the city? And it was there for the prayer movement in the city, not just a church. You talk about marking our city for God.
After the jump: More crosses on the side of the highway!