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NEWS AND BRIEFS

September 30, 1990| Compiled from Times staff and wire service reports

Quick Fact: There are no passenger trains in Swaziland.

Dial-a-Flight: Air travelers faced with increasingly common arrival and departure delays will soon have a new service offering the actual times they can expect to lift off and touch down.

The publishers of Official Airline Guides have established a telephone service at O'Hare International in Chicago--the world's busiest airport--that soon will be implemented at other airports around the country.

Travelers from anywhere in the United States can call an area code 900 number--for 75 cents a minute--punch in the flight number and hear a recording that will give actual times as well as gate information, updated every 10 minutes.

The service will be expanded to La Guardia, Kennedy and Newark airports in the New York area, plus Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Denver, Boston, Washington National and Dulles airports, Miami and Orlando.

It is possible to call the airlines directly and receive the same information free, but OAG claims that airline telephone operators do not have the same updated information available to them and are geared more toward booking flights than providing information.

Travel Quiz: How long does it take radio signals sent by the Magellan space craft to travel the more than 155 million miles to Earth from Venus? Answer below.

Close Encounters in Elmwood: While other small towns across the country have their corn boils, pumpkin festivals and fishing derbies, tiny Elmwood, Wis., population 1,009, makes its mark with "UFO Days."

The most recent of those celebrations attracted 2,000 tourists, some dressed like Hollywood-issue aliens. They watched parades, danced in the street, rode carnival rides, ate UFO burgers and saw the crowning of a UFO queen.

Concession stands did a brisk business in inflatable rocket ships, T-shirts, caps, mugs, ashtrays, badges, bumper stickers and cosmic headdresses, the manufacture of which has become somewhat of a cottage industry locally.

Children chased through the streets gathering 500 paper plates dropped from an airplane. The imitation flying saucers were redeemable for prizes ranging from five to 75 cents.

True to form, the 4-H Club ran a cow chip-throwing contest.

None were mistaken for alien craft.

Quick Fact: Santiago, Chile, a city of 4.5 million residents, has 20,000 taxis and 13,000 buses--more than Sao Paulo, Brazil, which has more than five times as many people.

Hawaii Leads: Honolulu had the highest hotel occupancy rate for the first quarter of this year, averaging 91%, according to a recent survey of 56 U.S. cities.

Behind Honolulu was Orlando, Fla., with an occupancy rate of 85%. The national average was 67.5%.

The survey also showed Hawaii as having a higher occupancy rate than any other state--almost 84%. The national average by state was 66%.

Hawaii also has higher room rates than other states. The daily rate of $113 was significantly higher than the national average of $78.

An Idea That Might Fly: The Children's Museum of Denver has devised a way to keep children from being bored while awaiting flights at Stapleton International Airport.

"KidsPort" is made up of five exhibits built around interactive play. For example, "How Am I?" gives children the opportunity to analyze their daily diets and physical condition. "The Rocky Mountain Climbing Experience" is a simulated climb up a mountain "wall." There's also a cushioned "Baby Playspace," plus a diaper-changing area, a gift shop and information monitors.

KidsPort is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $1.50 per person; children under 2 are admitted free. It is located in the grand concourse at the airport's C terminal.

Lost in Space: It may be nothing more than "an overgrown wilderness of blasted concrete," as one wire service described it, but Peenemuende in East Germany could well become a tourist attraction.

Aviation and military history buffs already are coming to the former Nazi V-2 rocket-testing site on the Baltic island of Usedom, a four-hour drive northeast of Berlin.

The coming of democracy to East Germany has made Peenemuende accessible to visitors for the first time, and plans for its future include museums, low-key tourism and possibly what one German businessman termed a "world peace park."

It was at Peenemuende on Oct. 3, 1942, that a V-2 blasted off, grazed the outer skin of the atmosphere and plunged to earth 120 miles away in man's first controlled ballistic missile flight.

The hidden ruins of the site lie in thick forest, but they have been mapped by Peenemuende-based East German Navy Capt. Bernd Fischer and Air Force Maj. Joachim Saathoff, who are studying the history of the V-2 proving ground.

Fischer said the V-2 and those who developed it laid the foundation for 40 years of space achievements.

The site deserved a place in German history that would reflect its revolutionary contribution to flight technology without ignoring its dark role in warfare, Fischer said.

Quiz Answer: 14 minutes.

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