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Tag Archives: travel

Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

8 hrs.

Courtesy World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association

The 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event in Bridgeville, Del., takes place Nov. 2-4.

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … well, if you’re in Bridgeville, Del., this weekend, it’s probably an 8- to 10-pound pumpkin that’s been launched into the wild blue yonder by a catapult, air cannon or other mechanical contraption.

It’s all part of the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event, Nov. 2–4. With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, it’s also our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

“It’s the combination of creativity and the oddity of it,” said John Huber, president of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA), of the event’s appeal. “It’s problem-solving, it’s creative thinking, it’s artistic. You look at these machines and you just go, ‘wow’.”

Those machines include catapults powered by ropes and garage-door springs, high-speed centrifugal launchers and cannons that feature massive tanks of compressed air and barrels stretching 100 feet or more. 

Each one is the result of countless hours of research, construction and pre-competition testing. “Everyone who competes has built something from scratch,” said Daniel Collins, part of Team Chucky — which currently holds the world record in the Adult Torsion (rope-powered) Catapult category, with a launch of 3,636.39 feet.

“People spend an inordinate amount of time doing this,” he told NBC News. “It becomes an obsession.”

Courtesy World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association

The machines used in this event include catapults, high-speed centrifugal launchers and cannons.

That obsession is apparently rather widespread. “We have farmers to dentists to chemical engineers,” said Huber, who happens to be a nuclear engineer. Not surprisingly, perhaps, he’s also a competitor, whose team — Team Hypertension — has built a spring-loaded catapult that sits on a 14,000-pound trailer and generates 30,000 pounds of force.

“We’ve invested $75,000 in this thing and it’s just to throw a pumpkin,” he said.

It all comes together on a field at Royal Farms in Bridgeville, where the competitors — 115 this year, says Huber — set up along a mile-long firing line. Some of the launchers are so big they arrive on flatbed tractor-trailers and have to be assembled on site.

At that point, it’s all about winching ropes, stretching springs, aiming cannon barrels and loading slings, buckets and barrels with the appropriately-plump projectile. Firing one at a time across an open field, the results are tallied by ATV-riding spotters, who presumably manage to avoid the incoming ordnance.

“They measure the point of impact,” said Huber. “Trust me, with these distances, the pumpkins leave a hell of a crater.”

Courtesy Joanne Coward

Team Chucky currently holds the world record in the Adult Torsion (rope-powered) Catapult category, with a launch of 3,636.39 feet.

Meanwhile, back behind the firing line — and protected by a high backstop — spectators can cheer on their favorites, enjoy live music and browse booths selling food, crafts and clothing. There’s also a chili cook-off and pageant competitions for ages 4 to 18-plus.

It’s all in good fun, but also for a good cause. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the WCPCA donates a large share of the proceeds from the event to several charities and scholarship programs. With 75,000 to 100,000 spectators over the course of the three-day event, Huber says those donations run to the “hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.”

As for this year’s event, it’s expected to go on despite any after-effects of Hurricane Sandy and with the usual degree of friendly competition. Collins, for example, has set his sights, not on his fellow catapulters, but on the biggest guns in the game: the air cannons, one of which holds the overall world record of 4,483.51 feet.

“They used to laugh at us but last year we beat 44 percent of them,” he said. “Now they’re looking over their shoulders. It’s only a matter of time.”

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him on Twitter.

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‘Hobbit’s’ Peter Jackson, Gollum in travel video

Air New Zealand

Peter Jackson.

Passengers on Air New Zealand won’t be sitting through a very dull safety video — instead they’ll see a clip that features Gollum crawling through the aisles and Peter Jackson finding the One Ring on the cabin floor.

PHOTOS: The Hard Road to “The Hobbit”

The airline company has debuted a Middle Earth inspired safety clip that was produced in partnership with Weta Workshop, which created the special effects for the “Lord of the Rings” films and the forthcoming “Hobbit” prequels.

The safety video, titled “An Unexpected Briefing” — a reference to the first Hobbit film titled “An Unexpected Journey” — features an aircraft pilot outfitted as a Grey wizard, an elf explaining how emergency oxygen masks work, passengers trying to pronounce “Mordor,” and even Jackson uttering the infamous phrase “my precious” to the ring.

COVER STORY: “The Hobbit”: Inside Peter Jackson and Warner Bros.’ $1 Billion Gamble

“To have Gollum step off the movie screen for the first time and into an Air New Zealand aircraft is incredibly special and Sir Peter Jackson delivers a superb cameo,” said Mike Tod, Air New Zealand’s General Manager of Marketing and Communications, in a press release

The “Rings” films have been filmed in New Zealand, and the country has capitalized on the franchise’s popularity, calling itself the “Home of Middle Earth” on its official tourism site. 

Watch the video!

Related content:

More in TODAY Entertainment:

Commuters face obstacles and long lines in New York

Brendan Smialowski / AFP – Getty Images

People board the NY Waterways ferry with the Manhattan skyline in the background Nov. 1, 2012 in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Seth Wenig / AP

Commuters wait in a line to board busses into Manhattan in front of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012. The line stretched twice around the arena and commuters reported wait times of one to three hours to get on a bus.

Andrew Gombert / EPA

Commuters wait in line to board buses to Manhattan outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Nov. 1.

Andrew Gombert / EPA

Commuters wait in line to board buses to Manhattan outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Nov. 1.

Andrew Gombert / EPA

Commuters cram onto a bus to Manhattan outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Nov. 1.

Jason Decrow / AP

Motorists sit in heavy traffic while crossing the Robert F. Kennedy Triboro Bridge during the morning rush, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, in the Queens borough of New York.

Richard Drew / AP

Morning commuters ride a downtown-bound, west side subway train toward New York’s Times Square, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012. New York City moved closer to resuming its frenetic pace by getting back some of its vital subways.

CX Matiash / AP

A timetable board displays continued cancellations at Penn Station in New York as MTA resumed limited service on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.

Commuters heading into New York City from the five boroughs faced a longer commute than normal, with long lines, crowded buses, trains and highways. Though some subway service was restored, much of lower Manhattan was still without power and without service. Many of the bridges and tunnels were reopened, but not all, and commuters were faced with a new rule for drivers – cars crossing into Manhattan must carry three passengers. Tolls and fares were suspended in order to encourage people to take public transportation following the gridlock on Wednesday. New Jersey Transit was shut down as were many train lines running through Penn Station, one of the biggest transportation hubs in the area, which remained virtually empty. Full story

Video: Traffic snarl seen in aerial view of New York

Video: ‘Unwatering’ team is drying NYC subway tunnels

Video: Northeast airports reopen with limited service

 

/

Superstorm Sandy made landfall Monday evening on a destructive and deadly path across the Northeast.

Launch slideshow

Major airports around NYC up and running, albeit slowly

1 hr.

Video: Northeast airports reopen with limited service

Days after Superstorm Sandy turned flying into a waiting game, airports into hotels and runways into rivers, travelers are on the move again as the word “canceled” began disappearing from flight status boards.

All three New York-area airports are finally back in service and gradually returning to normal.

LaGuardia reopened on Thursday morning after flooding from Sandy forced its closure at the height of the storm, with water right up to the jet bridges. Carriers will be providing limited service, the Port Authority of New York New Jersey cautioned.

“It’s been a mess here over the last few days and today, it’s going to be slow going,” NBC News’ Tom Costello said on the TODAY show.

“The airlines have to fly planes in before they can fly planes out … (and) a big problem has been getting the employees to the airport because many employees have been stuck.”

John F. Kennedy International and Newark International are open for a second day, but flight service is still not fully restored and varies by carrier. If you have a flight scheduled at any of the New York-area airports, officials are strongly urging you to check the status with your airline before heading out.

Airlines canceled about 600 flights on Thursday, according to FlightAware.com. That’s relatively few compared to earlier in the week when thousands of flights were being scrubbed each day. In all, carriers have canceled about 20,000 flights since Sunday, when the storm began to menace the Northeast.

“Barring any unforeseen airport damage or operational issues, such as the ability for staff to get to the airport, road warriors should pretty much be back in business on Monday,” said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com.

“The trend in cancellations since Monday is a hockey stick in the downward direction.”

Delta is near its full usual schedule at JFK International on Thursday and expects to operate 50 percent of its schedule at LaGuardia.

United has increased its operations at JFK International and Newark Liberty and is offering limited flights at LaGuardia.

American Airlines is flying a full schedule at JFK and about 70 percent of its schedule at LaGuardia and Newark. The carrier is also operating additional flights into JFK to help passengers impacted by cancellations earlier in the week.

JetBlue is operating 80 percent of its total schedule, aiming to return to 100 percent by Saturday. All JetBlue flights originally scheduled to depart from LaGuardia on Thursday will depart instead from JFK International. The airline expects to resume service at LaGuardia on Friday.

Getting around in New York remains a problem as the city struggles to restore subway service. To avoid gridlock in the Big Apple, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared a transportation emergency and announced that fares on all mass transit will be suspended for Thursday and Friday.

Related: Commuters face obstacles and long lines in New York

“We want to get people back to work, but we are asking our customers for patience and understanding as they confront crowding and long lines as we repair our system,” said Joseph Lhota, chairman and CEO of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“Be flexible about your travel times. We have come a long way in a short time to repair the damage from the most devastating event to strike our transportation system.”

Limited subway service began in the Big Apple on Thursday morning, but there is almost no subway activity below 34th Street, Costello said.

“That has been a real problem for folks in New York City,” he added. “If you are driving into Manhattan, the mayor has ordered that you cannot be in a car with fewer than three people.”

Meanwhile, car rental companies are reporting unusual activity in the wake of the storm, with travelers desperate to get moving.

“It’s people saying, ‘I’m stuck, I’ve got to get out of here’,” said Richard Broome, a spokesman for Hertz.

The company estimates it will have rented 10,000 cars one-way from the storm-affected area, compared to a few hundred — at most — reservations of this type at this time of the year, Broome said. It means lots of people are picking up a car at one location and dropping it off at another far

“For this kind of activity, you only see it during truly catastrophic events. Major natural disasters and, for example, 9/11,” Broome said.

16 hrs.

Cars line up for gas at the New Jersey Turnpike's Thomas A. Edison service area Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, near Woodbridge, N.J. After Monday's storm s...

New Jersey investigating reports of price gouging

19 hrs.

Turnstiles

Subway-dependent businesses see traffic slow to halt 

Close post

Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin world title

2 hrs.

Courtesy World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association

The 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event in Bridgeville, Del., takes place Nov. 2-4.

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a … well, if you’re in Bridgeville, Del., this weekend, it’s probably an 8- to 10-pound pumpkin that’s been launched into the wild blue yonder by a catapult, air cannon or other mechanical contraption.

It’s all part of the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event, Nov. 2–4. With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, it’s also our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

“It’s the combination of creativity and the oddity of it,” said John Huber, president of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA), of the event’s appeal. “It’s problem-solving, it’s creative thinking, it’s artistic. You look at these machines and you just go, ‘wow’.”

Those machines include catapults powered by ropes and garage-door springs, high-speed centrifugal launchers and cannons that feature massive tanks of compressed air and barrels stretching 100 feet or more. 

Each one is the result of countless hours of research, construction and pre-competition testing. “Everyone who competes has built something from scratch,” said Daniel Collins, part of Team Chucky — which currently holds the world record in the Adult Torsion (rope-powered) Catapult category, with a launch of 3,636.39 feet.

“People spend an inordinate amount of time doing this,” he told NBC News. “It becomes an obsession.”

Courtesy World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association

The machines used in this event include catapults, high-speed centrifugal launchers and cannons.

That obsession is apparently rather widespread. “We have farmers to dentists to chemical engineers,” said Huber, who happens to be a nuclear engineer. Not surprisingly, perhaps, he’s also a competitor, whose team — Team Hypertension — has built a spring-loaded catapult that sits on a 14,000-pound trailer and generates 30,000 pounds of force.

“We’ve invested $75,000 in this thing and it’s just to throw a pumpkin,” he said.

It all comes together on a field at Royal Farms in Bridgeville, where the competitors — 115 this year, says Huber — set up along a mile-long firing line. Some of the launchers are so big they arrive on flatbed tractor-trailers and have to be assembled on site.

At that point, it’s all about winching ropes, stretching springs, aiming cannon barrels and loading slings, buckets and barrels with the appropriately-plump projectile. Firing one at a time across an open field, the results are tallied by ATV-riding spotters, who presumably manage to avoid the incoming ordnance.

“They measure the point of impact,” said Huber. “Trust me, with these distances, the pumpkins leave a hell of a crater.”

Courtesy Joanne Coward

Team Chucky currently holds the world record in the Adult Torsion (rope-powered) Catapult category, with a launch of 3,636.39 feet.

Meanwhile, back behind the firing line — and protected by a high backstop — spectators can cheer on their favorites, enjoy live music and browse booths selling food, crafts and clothing. There’s also a chili cook-off and pageant competitions for ages 4 to 18-plus.

It’s all in good fun, but also for a good cause. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the WCPCA donates a large share of the proceeds from the event to several charities and scholarship programs. With 75,000 to 100,000 spectators over the course of the three-day event, Huber says those donations run to the “hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.”

As for this year’s event, it’s expected to go on despite any after-effects of Hurricane Sandy and with the usual degree of friendly competition. Collins, for example, has set his sights, not on his fellow catapulters, but on the biggest guns in the game: the air cannons, one of which holds the overall world record of 4,483.51 feet.

“They used to laugh at us but last year we beat 44 percent of them,” he said. “Now they’re looking over their shoulders. It’s only a matter of time.”

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him on Twitter.

1 day

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Close post