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Visit 2006/7 - December 29

For some reason no pictures taken today, so there is probably some video footage coming once we work out how to get it on the PC and make it web friendly.


So instead here are a couple of things totally unrelated to our visit..


Well actually this first one is slightly related to our previous visit in 2004/5

Now, everyone seems to know that there are about 1000 people living on Ascension at any given time, but how many visitors are there in a year? 


This extract from the UK Parliament's Hansard gives the answer:



Ascension Island: Tourism

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many tourists visited Ascension Island in 2005-06. [138656]

Mr. McCartney: Entry to Ascension Island is regulated through an Entry Permit control system. With very few exceptions, every arrival needs an Entry Permit and this includes persons in transit, visitors of relatives or friends and ‘tourists’ as well as many of the people working and living on Ascension.

During 2005 and 2006 the number of persons transiting or categorised as tourists were:


  Holiday Transit Total
2005 1,034 1,575 2,609
2006 1,068 1,776 2,844

22 May 2007 : Column 1215W

© Parliamentary copyright 2008

For full details see House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 22 May 2007 (pt 0009)




Changing the subject completely, I wanted to add a link to an article in The  Islander about a recent visitor to Ascension who wanted to try using his gravity luge on the road  from Green Mountain.


However the page on the Islander site seems to be empty so I have reconstructed it here from the Google cached copy.


Ascension : Gravity Never Fails
Submitted by The Islander (Gavin Yon) 20.12.2007 (Current Article)

Bob Swartz, age 48, from Waldorf, Maryland USA, visited the island this past week on a survey mission for the Navy, and brought along one of his toys to play with on his off time.


Bob Swartz, age 48, from Waldorf, Maryland USA, visited the island this past week on a survey mission for the Navy, and brought along one of his toys to play with on his off time. Bob is a professional Gravity Sports competitor, specializing in the extreme sport of street luge. A street luge is a long skateboard that is ridden in the prone position at speeds up to 80 mph just one inch from the asphalt, in head to head competitions with as many as 6 racers screaming down steep mountain roads to be the first to cross the finish line. Street Luge has all the element of auto racing such as drafting, turning, passing and strategy but without an engine or braking system. That’s right; Bob uses his feet to stop from speeds of 60 mph in just 30 foot distance in a cloud of smoke with tire rubber glued to his racing shoes.

Bob’s has enjoyed a 12 year career in the sport, chasing world cup points  racing around the globe with a season best of 13th in 2001. He has raced in the ESPN X-Games, NBC Gravity Games and many Red Bull events and has been featured in several televised documentaries. In an effort to promote the sport to prospective sponsors and spectators, Bob invented the worlds first Jet Powered Luge that could be demonstrated on flat race tracks and air shows. The computer controlled 52 lbs thrust gas turbine engine powers Bob down the track and up hills at speeds near 120 mph with a display of fire and smoke. He is licensed by the IHRA and is hired to provide entertainment between drag racing classes.  He formed his company under the  name of Blue Smoke Racing LLC to promote the sports, teach new riders and also volunteers his time in high schools science classes, using the gravity sports and the Jet Luge as examples to augment and enhance lesson plans  in various physics topics.

While preparing for his trip to Ascension Island, Bob discovered the unique topography on Google Earth, and decided to bring some of his practice equipment. Prepared with full racing leathers, helmet, gloves, rubber-soled shoes, Bob was treated to what he expected on his arrival, but with a few twists. The roads with bumps and hole’s were extremely abrasive to his wheels and shoes with the rolled volcanic clinker. This caused his board to vibrate and made more smoke in turns and braking than he has ever seen.  Bob tasted the gravity on the island and likes it so much he traversed the downhill from the Old NASA site, into the base and down to the ocean on his lay down skateboard, covering the 8.4 miles in 32 minutes and 24 seconds, touching speeds that we will not mention.  This could be considered a record, since he is the first to ride gravity only powered on the island, of any distance or speed.


As the international ambassador of the sport, Bob could not leave without sharing the experience and adrenaline rush with at least one resident of the island. Upon arrival, Bob was informed that there was one local downhill junkie that may want to give it a go. He met up with Frances Dixon of CSR who did not hesitate to accept the challenge. After a few short lessons Frances took to the NASA road for her experience where she proved herself to be a natural born “luger” with ear to ear smiles and totally burned out and melted shoes.


When Bob was asked if he would ever ride Green Mountain or Cross Hill, he just smiled with his thumbs up saying that he will taste that gravity when he returns. 


Visit Bob’s Website at www.jetluge.net.


Copyright © 1971-2008 The Islander Newspaper



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