When my daughter, Amy Royce and her family first moved to the Seattle, Washington area, I started looking around online to see what sights there might be for them to go visit. The first thing I came across was the Pacific Queen shipwreck. I was excited to tell them about a shipwreck in their area. I thought it might be a cool thing to go see. Amy researched it too, and found that it was on a private beach. We were disappointed, but I couldn’t get it off my mind.
Bob and I had a little time on Saturday, so we decided to head back out to Puget Sound. I got an idea to see if there was a place where we could actually see the ship, and found that we could see it from Picnic Point Park. While we could not get close to the private beach where the Pacific Queen rests, we were treated to some really good views of the ship, and I was so excited. This was something I really wanted to see.
I started researching the origins of the Pacific Queen online, I found that she was a old minesweeper. The ship was not wrecked, but rather brought to the site by a man who planned to salvage the metal on her. So the only wreck she had was when she was run aground to her final resting place. The Pacific Queen is one of 27 boats that were brought to the sight over the years, but she is the only one that really still resembles a ship. Several of the boats are underwater except during low tide, and those still look somewhat like ships too.
I admit that I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t an actual shipwreck, but then again, the ship was built in the 1800s. It was actually brought to its current location in 1929, and really has been an area attraction since that time. The best way to get up close is by kayak, but the beach is off limits. Apparently you can walk the distance from Picnic Point Park to the Pacific Queen during the low tide, but it is not recommended that you go onto the actual beach. Nevertheless, a few people have ventured close, and if the owner was in a good mood, they might have been treated to a few of the stories surrounding the boats and their arrival at the current sight.
In the end, with the boat viewing and my research, I felt very pleased with this adventure. Whether she had wrecked or not, the Pacific Queen was a very cool boat. It was amazing to sit and wonder where she had been and what she and her crews had seen. A minesweeper must have been an important boat, and I would think that would be a dangerous job. If you didn’t see a mine and you bumped into it…well, it was all over for you. Nevertheless, the crews of the Pacific Queen must have been good at their jobs, because she survived the war and ended up on her current resting place, a ship of beauty and intrigue, sought out by many and having her picture on the Internet for all to see. I know that for me, it was a view I will never forget.
Years ago, many people thought that anyone who was trying to invent an airplane was pretty much insane…saying, that “if man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings” as their reasoning. I’m sure that those same people reiterated their thoughts on the matter, with each new plane crash…basically jumping on the chance to say, “I told you so!” Of course, these days, no one thinks that way, whether they like to fly or not. I guess a fear of flying and the idea that it is a foolish pipe dream aren’t the same things at all. Still, while man has proven over the years that flight is possible, and in fact mostly safe, there are some airplane crashes that that will forever be embedded in our minds. For me, of course, the one that I can picture in my mind at the drop of a hat, is Flight 232 that crashed in Sioux City, Iowa. This was the crash that took the life of my Great Aunt Gladys Pattan Byer Cooper. That pilot was so close to landing that plane safely, and would have, in fact, if the plane hadn’t put in one last effort to turn over due to a major loss of hydraulics. The resulting crash made me wonder how anyone survived…much less the 185 out of 296 people on board. The only reason they survived was the skill of the pilot…and much prayer.
Another plane crash that has stayed in my memory was the crash of the Concorde, that occurred on this day, July 25, 2000. The Concord was a beautiful plane, and by far the most luxurious one of its time. I’m not sure there are even any planes that are more luxurious today…although the Boeing 787 might be. Dubbed the Dreamliner, it gives the indication that it might out class the Concorde. Nevertheless, in its day, the Concorde was the end all, beat all of airplanes. The thing that always amazes me is that sometimes it is the tiniest of things that ends up bringing down a plane. Much like the bird strike that brought down US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River.
The Concorde was downed be a small piece of metal on the runway…that had fallen off of another plane. Air France Flight 4590 left DE Gaulle Airport for New York carrying nine crew members and 96 German tourists who were planning to take a cruise to Ecuador. That piece of metal shredded the tire that ran over it, throwing pieces of the tire into one of the engines and fuel tanks, causing a disabling fire. The pilot had no idea what was about to happen, but just moments later the plane plunged to the ground near a hotel in Gonesse, France. A huge fireball erupted and all 105 people on the plane were killed immediately. The Concorde, the world’s fastest commercial jet, had enjoyed an exemplary safety record up to that point, with no crashes in the plane’s 31 year history. That crash, however, marked the beginning of the end for the Concorde. The last flight of the Concorde was on October 24, 2003. What was supposed to mark the first of a future of supersonic, fast paced air travel, was brought to a disappointing halt. Air travel has taken on a much slower pace since that time.