Behind the Scenes

Most people around Western New York know Calspan as a somewhat mysterious place where they do science and military stuff.  They have a large wind tunnel where engineers test the aerodynamics of various flying things (including Olympic skiers), an abandoned track that was used years ago for a rocket sled or something like that, and other facilities where they quietly advance technology.

Behind the Calspan complex, just across the street from the airport, is a large plot of land where they crash cars for the government.  There are smashed up vehicles parked in various places for ongoing analysis of front-end, read-end and broadside collisions.  The place looks like a junkyard. 

It’s also an accidental wildlife refuge.  Though a secured area, there are deer, fox, other small animals and at least a few large birds that hang out.  The area is invisible to us, masked by the monolithic building in front of it and closed to the neighborhoods behind it.  The juxtaposition of a brown fox living in this cacophony of airport noise, asphalt, sheds and junked cars is fascinating.

I would love to take my camera back there and shoot a few photographs were it not for the fear of Calspan’s security guys coming out with guns drawn.


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