Airplanes, Evacuations, and the FENX 4.1

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Yesterday morning my brother Seth and I caught a flight at Regan National Airport in DC to Detroit Metro in Michigan. It being a Holiday we have some time off and haven’t seen our parents in a while – perfect time to come home. This flight was probably one of the more interesting ones, as I met a man who was returning home to Minnesota with his family after touring the city with his wife and daughter. We spent some time talking about what he does as a parts supplier with IBM and what I do as a Congressional Staffer and what it’s like to work where I do – mostly in the last few weeks with long days and Health Care.

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Behind the Butterfly: A return to the cockpit of the FENX 4.1

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Over the last three months, Washington, D.C. has gotten an inordinate amount of snowfall. Therefore two things have happened: The FENX 4.1 was grounded due to weather and the entire city knows what “Snowpocalypse” and “Snomageddon” mean (and I almost put hash-tags in, need to remember this isn’t Twitter). Thanks to the FENX being grounded, I wasn’t able to have my own Battle of Hoth in the snow.

Today, I took the FENX 4.1 out for a quick test run to Union Station and Ebeneezer’s Coffee House, just to see how the vehicle was faring. All is still well, just need to keep a judicious eye on the batteries. It felt awesome to be behind the butterfly steering wheel again, there is nothing like it. I still get stopped by folks though; I like to think my Dad and I are actively engaged in changing the paradigm in how an individual gets from point A to point B in a city and loving every second.

Riding towards Eternity,

Aaron

The FENX 4.1 – a conduit to a road less traveled and a demension rarely visited?

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In anticipation of the airing of the story of the FENX 4.0 on NBC Nightly News and reflecting on what the FENX Adventure has been so far, I’ve spent time as of late considering what this whole experience has taught me about God and Life in General (MxPx reference not quite intentional but welcome):

1. My Dad loves me, a lot – let’s face it, no other dad I know would take the time and effort to do what my Dad has done and all this because he saw a need that I had, not only at the present time but far into the future.  Lest anyone forget, this entire project – which includes both the FENX III and the FENX 4 – has been on going since the Spring of 2004.  My dad has taken a majority of his free time the last five years to design, build, and help me upkeep and modify both models at separate times.

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Transportation and Housing: With the FENX 4.1 and Solar Decathalon Houses, is the Future allowing is to glimpse it?

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Last Sunday I took the FENX 4.1 for a drive down to the National Mall to see the “prototype houses” on display as part of the 2009 Solar Decathlon.  For those who may not know, the Solar Decathlon is a competition which takes place every other year in the Fall in Washington D.C. to highlight architectural design concepts which are of assistance to the environment though, primarily, solar technology.  Now I make no attempt to hide the fact that I like technology and futuristic concepts in present technology – look at what I drive.   Now this competition takes place between a number of colleges and universities which are both national and international in nature.  This year there were teach from places like California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Canada, and Spain.  It was to this competition and these houses I drove the FENX 4.1 – I thought it would fit in rather well, and I was correct.  It garnished as much attention (and questions) as some of the houses did, and sometimes the questions came from the folks who designed and assembled the futuristic domiciles.  It was a worthwhile venture.

Riding towards eternity,

Aaron

The FENX 4.1 Returns (and the NBC Nightly News Saga)

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The FENX has landed.   Last weekend Dad returned to Washington D. C. with the FENX 4.1 complete with a double locking modification to keep it safe.  Previously I hinted at a TV segment which is being filmed on the FENX 4.1, my Dad, and me.  It’s not a rumor, it’s true.  It’s a segment for the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.  So how did something like this happen?  Well, quite simply God had a hand in it.  Late one evening I was piloting the FENX 4.1 near the House Office Buildings on Independence Avenue in Washington, across from the Capitol building.  As I was cruising along, three folks were down the sidewalk from me with a video camera and began filming my approach.   I ignored them and began on my merry way, when a small voice in my mind suggested I stop and talk with them, find out who they are.  I did just that, not knowing what I was getting into.  I stopped to talk with these folks for about 15 minutes and answer all their questions, only to discover they are from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) .  Additionally, the camera woman informs me that her husband is a car and aircraft enthusiast and would be very interested in seeing the FENX and probably meeting me – and then she told me he was a producer for NBC Nightly News and the Today show; you can imagine my shock and disbelief.  She commented that he would probably be getting in touch with me sooner than later.  (For the record I didn’t believe her, I thought it was too crazy – even for me.)  On the way home that night I talked with my dad and told him what transpired, having commented on Eph 3:20 – “To Him who can do more than we can ask or imagine” but also quoting Han Solo – “I can imagine a lot”.

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FENX-less, but still inspiring hope…or so I am told.

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When I last wrote, I commented on the FENX 4.0 being in Michigan for repairs and modifications; it still is, till next weekend.  However, I had an encounter last night that helped me realize it’s not so much the technology of the FENX 4.0 itself that can give people hope, but the story in it’s entirety.  Last night, I went to the premiere of Discovering God in America II:  Our Heritage.  It’s a film exploring the Christian heritage of our nation and it was put together by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, in conjunction with Citizen’s United.

After watching the excellent film which, explores our heritage from the early Jamestown Settlement in 1607 to Abraham Lincoln and after the Civil War in 1865, I went to a reception where I met some folks and before I knew it I was talking about the FENX 4.0 – mainly because of my story involving the Capitol Police thinking the FENX was a security threat and might explode the first time that I droveit to work on Capitol Hill – and yes, it included explosive sniffing canines.

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The FENX 4.0 and time in the shop

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I haven’t posted anything on the FENX 4.0 in some time, for one simple reason:  there’s little to say and no adventures to be had.  In a nutshell, the FENX 4.0 has been “in the shop” in Michigan, undergoing some repairs and modifications/upgrades.  One of the biggest lessons of this overarching adventure has been estimating the overall range of the FENX 4.0, how far it can go.  The biggest impediment to this in my estimation has been the electric engine’s tendency to overheat when used for long periods of time.  Since there is no real way to cool the engine down while it is in use, the FENX is best used in a situation where there is a defined destination upon where it can rest and the engine can cool.  I am looking forward to the day when it returns to Washington, D.C. and I can use it as a catalyst for more adventuring.

Riding towards Eternity,

Aaron

Stem Cell Research, The National Press Club, and the FENX 4.0

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Last night, the FENX 4.0 and I went to a screening of a documentary film on the differences of opnion regarding Adult Stem Cell Research and Embryonic Stem Cell Research.  Since this is not hte subject of this post or the blog in general, I will include a weblink and leave it at that – www.linesthatdevide.com – it was a great film.  Anyway, I spent a good portion of time after the film discussing the FENX with some folks – most who seemed facinated with the idea of me needing a two seater F-14 Tomcat style machine for a passenger – related to the whole “use the FENX to pick up girls” line of thinking.  All of this happened at the National Press Club here in Washington, DC.  The security folks there are less than respectable, as they made me take the FENX through the building into a small freight elevator to get where I needed to go.  This of course all because I can’t leave it in the lobby – no one told me why.  All this resulted in a very tough time trying to get out of the building at the end of the evening…all because of some nebulous rule saying I can’t park the FENX 4.0 in the lobby.  I found out tonight that the security there is ALWAYS like that.  So ok, lesson learned – the FENX 4.0 and the National Press Club won’t be friends.

Tomorrow, another test ride…

Riding towards eternity,

Aaron

National Air and Space Museum and the FENX 4.0 – Undiscovered Country…

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Tonight, my good friend Brian and I attempted to enter the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution with the FENX 4 – we succeeded, at least partially.  We got in to the Museum because I stressed the fact that the FENX 4.o is my primary transportation device – which it has become.  While we were certainly a security concern for the guards – and to a point rightly so, having never seen something like this – the whole cross between a stasis pod from Aliens and a Light Cycle from Tron kinda freaks people out – they let us in.  Once in the Museum, we waited – all the while imagining taking photos with SpaceShip One.  We were told we had to wait to hear from the office of public affairs.  Why?  Well we couldn’t take pictures or video to be used in a promotional capacity – mainly this blog – unless they said so.  Well we never got the OK, and I have to call them this week and see if I can get the OK to go back and take pictures.  While we were inside though, we did drive/walk around on the first floor some – and yes, security followed us around the whole time.  I think they were very happy to see us leave.  Funny thing is that some of the security guards were really interested…

We’ll be back there though, and pictures will follow…not to mention the video Brian took before and after the museum and is editing…

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron

Strom Chasing: An early morning FENX 4.0 test run

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On Sunday I got out early with the FENX 4.0 to run it through a hard test run – the toughest yet.  The goal – to run the entire circuit I had run on Saturday within 2 hours and 30 minuites.  Thanks to the dark horizon at 8:30 am very few runners and tourists were out along my route – on this day, a blessing indeed.  With food and fluids on board – breakfast while testing – I flew as hard and fast as I could, only stopping when lights required me to.  Starting at 12.7 volts, I ended the test run with 11.7 and in 2 hours and 7 minutes.  As long as I keep it above 10.5 volts life is good.  Importantly, by the time I finished I was near Union Station and was able to stop – as the engine was overheating and communicating said strain.  After letting it sit for over an hour things were cool again and I was good to go – the storm that came through, which I hit while on the National Mall, helped with that.  All the while runners and tourists were wet and cold and I was safe and sound in my litte world.  The FENX handles surprisingly better than anticipated in the rain, granted one doesn’t want to do something stupid.  All in all a fantastic run, with an important lessons learned – batteries need rest too.

Hopefully, tomorrow, the FENX 4.0 and Spaceship One will meet for the first time.

My friend Azaria and I doing our best Wonder Twins impression (from SuperFriends).

My friend Azaria and I doing our best Wonder Twins impression (from SuperFriends).

Riding Towards Eternity,

Aaron