Dryden tour guide Winette Vandam points out one of the center's aircraft for members of the Experimental Aircraft Association President's Circle in Hangar 4802 on May 6 to learn about the cutting-edge research under way at the center. (NASA Photo / Carla Thomas) Members of the Experimental Aircraft Association President's Circle came to see what's happening in aeronautics at Dryden May 6.
More than 50 members from areas spanning the United States attended the Dryden tour, which included explanations of Dryden research by some local EAA members.
The association is best known for its annual air show in Oshkosh, Wis., called AirVenture and for its Young Eagles program, where local EAA chapter members give kids an opportunity to fly and develop their passion for aviation.
At Dryden, it was the EAA guests whose imagination was fired up and their enthusiasm bolstered by learning about some of the latest innovations in aeronautics.
Tony Ginn, Dryden chief of flight operations engineering and an EAA member, gave the group an overview of what's happening at the center.
"The EAA has done a lot of great things within general aviation and to be able to share what we are doing here was pretty exciting - sharing with them what we do with research and science aircraft and the work that we do," said Ginn, who is a 20-year EAA member.
As part of his participation in EAA, he enjoys taking kids fly for their first flight.
EAA members hear more about Global Hawk operations at the control room where the autonomously controlled aircraft is monitored. NASA pilot Mark Pestana, right, briefs the group. (NASA Photo / Carla Thomas) "When there are kids who want to fly, I can make them Young Eagles," he said. He helped by doing his part when EAA reached its goal in 2003 of flying one million kids by the 100th anniversary of flight.
Kathleen Howell, a Dryden operations engineer who works with the Ikhana unmanned aircraft system and an EAA member, enjoyed seeing some of the EAA members she knows. She explained to the group members, many of whom had a number of curiosities about the Ikhana, how Dryden uses the UAS.
"They were impressed with the technology of Ikhana and Global Hawk. Most of them are familiar with basic aircraft because many build their own aircraft, but they were really interested in Ikhana with respect to its cutting-edge technology and UAS status," Howell said.
In addition to the presentations by Ginn and Howell, EAA members also saw the X-48B blended wing body aircraft, the ER-2 high-altitude science aircraft, and Dryden aircraft in Hangar 4802, such as F-18 research aircraft and chase vehicles like the T-34 and T-38.
The group was impressed with the depth and magnitude of the tour, said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and chairman.
"We gained valuable insights talking to Dryden presenters who have passion for the mission on hand. They are dedicated professionals. We enjoyed seeing the technology, but the dedicated people made it for us. It is special to walk into those hangars and see the passion. Attitude is everything," Poberezny said.
The EAA began in 1953 as a group of recreational aircraft enthusiasts who built and flew their own airplanes, but its ranks have grown to include a variety of aviation interests such as antique aircraft, war birds, classics, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, and helicopters.
Its membership is diverse and includes people from different backgrounds, from astronauts and business owners to real estate developers.