Some time ago, I had the opportunity to scout the defunct Grumman airplane factory in Bethpage, Long Island. Once the leading manufacturer of everything from F-14′s to the Apollo Lunar Module, Grumman was bought by a larger company in the 1990′s and moved out of Bethpage. The enormous complex is now being converted into residential and commercial space, with many of the remaining warehouses having been converted into studio space like the one pictured below:
While scouting there recently, I got to see a few of the remaining aircraft factory warehouses. Though they’re completely empty, it was still pretty amazing. Each warehouse is enormous, stretching on for room after room after room.
The below picture gives you a sense of how much space was used for airplane assembly:
Also, when I took my tour, a few of the buildings didn’t have power…
…which was creepy, especially when you realized that some of the floors have sudden significant drops, and a wrong step could send you plummeting:
I can’t remember exactly what this was designed for – I want to say it was for working on the underside of planes, but I feel like the explanation was more clever than that. Anyone know? I seem to recall that these were capable of filling with water.
But what really interested me were the floors, which looked like brick, but were actually made of wooden blocks. Why wood? Because when you drop a 5 ton engine on wooden blocks, they don’t smash into a million pieces.
But here’s the neat thing: As I was taking pictures, I began to notice long lines of uprooted wooden blocks, zigzagging across the floor as if an earthquake had struck:
Turns out, this is a result of the wood expanding due to temperature:
It was pretty amazing how it erupted in linear patterns, stretching on for hundreds of feet across the warehouse floor. I’m curious if it was a gradual uprooting, or a sudden event:
More upturned blocks:
One last tidbit: Grumman was also responsible for designing and building the LLV, or Long Life Vehicle, which you might recognize below:
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