Earlier today, Erik Sohn and his team began their "dream assignment" of rappelling down the side of the Washington Monument. Is Sohn the new star of the latest installment of 'National Treasure'? No, he is an architectural engineer, recruited to assess the damage done to the monument since it was shaken by the 5.8 DC earthquake in August.
The earthquake terrified visitors, and pieces of the structure were seen falling off; substantial stones and a field of debris lay at the base of the structure after the quake subsided. On Monday, the National Park Service declared the damage worse than expected. While the building remains structurally sound, the largest crack in the marble is 4 feet long and one inch wide, exposing sunlight.
Here to save the day is the "difficult assess team," which will examine each of the four sides' marble exterior for damage. They will assess the structural as well as cosmetic integrity while "harnessed in small seats hung from ropes," according to The Washington Post. And to top it all off, they will be starting the mission from a trap door on top of the monument. The operation should last about 5 days.
The Washington Monument is expected to be just fine, having survived a bigger earthquake in the 19th century. Our worries are more focused on the flying engineers.