Reporters on the Job
• The View from Guam: As part of the reporting for today's story about China's military buildup, staff writer Robert Marquand visited the Pacific island of Guam. The US Andersen Air Force base there, which dates back to World War II, is in the midst of its own buildup. There are plans to squeeze a new runway into the existing base footprint, which runs along a 500-foot cliff overlooking the ocean. "The older bombers, I was told, would actually drop off the cliff before gaining enough speed to continue their flights," says Bob.
Part of his tour included taking a close look at the B-1 bombers stationed there. But his guide stopped the car before driving out on the runway. "He got out and checked the car tires to make sure there was no loose gravel or nuts and bolts in the treads. The B-1 engines create such incredible suction that they form little cyclones on the runway that pick up rocks and debris and fling them at the aircraft," says Bob.
Larger weather events are a source of concern this time of year, too. Guam sits in what's known as typhoon alley. "Turn on the TV and it seems like every channel is covering the weather. During the four days I was there, I only saw the sun once," says Bob. The US is building two new $10 million dollar hangers to protect their bombers from the winds.
David Clark Scott