NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field California celebrated their 75th Anniversary Saturday October 18th and I was very fortunate enough to attend (Thanks to Shawn and Emily). We went to the Mountain View Metro station to catch the free shuttle only to find out that it was going to take at least an hour to just get on a bus if we were lucky. So we decided to walk and while we walked all day we definitely beat the buses. The traffic on the street to the center was packed and the 101 freeway was jammed in both directions. When we arrived at the center they didn’t even bother to take our tickets so if you could get to the center you were allowed to go in.
There were 120,000 free tickets that were given away in less than 24 hours after they went online. There were estimates that at least 150,000 and possibly 200,000 people were at the facility. It was very crowded but the facility is so big that fortunately you could walk around with no major issues. They had booths set up throughout the facility and they were always packed and the lines to see some of the demonstrations and exhibits were as long as an hour. So we ended up just wandering around the open areas and it was impressive to see the massively huge buildings that were there.
There were plenty of porta potty but they were lacking on bottled drinks. We got warm diet coke because we were super thirsty and then of course they brought out water. So we stocked up on those and looked around some more. The wind tunnel building was the most impressive and of course the busiest. They figured that the line was at least an hour and a half when we got over there so we didn’t bother with going in. There was a large open field behind it and had to go all the way to the edge just to get the whole building in the photograph.
We then headed to the area where they stored the vehicles and more research facilities. It was getting late and so we headed over to the gift shop to pick up some shirts for the event. Sadly we walked away empty-handed because the line was insane and there was no one there to let you know where to go and what to do. I have been to concerts and other large events that were much more organized than this. We headed over to the hanger that is being restored and this was the real highlight of the day. The scope of the hanger was truly breath-taking. Then there were planes and helicopters that you could get on but the lines were really long so the kids were able to get into the helicopter at least.
After a long day we headed over to get on the shuttle bus to head back to the metro station in downtown Mountain View. We get on the bus only to find out that we are taken about 200 feet to be dumped off. We are then told to go over to the Metro station at Moffett Field that has hundreds of people waiting for the metro. This was the most unorganized fiasco I have ever seen. There was only a few police and metro employees and they were not really helping out much just herding the masses loosely. We luckily got on the last car and headed off.
It was a long day and while it was an experience of a lifetime and I appreciate that Ames held the open house it was very unorganized. It seemed to me is if they had no real plan to handle the massive crowds. The way that things were set up I doubt that they could have handled half of the people who showed up. I would have gladly paid money to go and have fewer people there. While it was great that it was free in the end the things that would have really made the visit would have been to be able to actually see the booths and demonstrations that were there. I really doubt that if you were there at the opening and stayed until closing that you could have seen everything because of the massive crowds. They might was to change a few things if they ever decide to do this again. First they shouldn’t wait 17 years to do it again. Secondly they need to limit the amount of people who they let in. If you are going to have tickets for 120,000 then they should have only allowed people with tickets into the event. In the end we did have a good time I just wish that we could have actually had the opportunity to see and talk to the people who were there. In the end it was an incredible day and to visit this facility was a wonderful memory that will I will never forget.
Here are the photos of the event that I took. I forgot my good camera and was really bummed about that so these were all taken on my iPhone 5 and they turned out pretty good. They are in the order that we went during the day and is a small fraction of the scope of the facility.