|Dryden's Ronald J. Ray, left, and Michael Jacob "Jake" Vachon, together with co-author Carl Calianno of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Patuxent River, Md., recently took home top AIAA honors for their paper entitled "Calculated Drag of an Aerial Refueling Assembly through Airplane Performance Analysis."
NASA Photo / Tom Tschida
AIAA honors researchers
By Alan Brown
Dryden News Chief
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has honored three aerospace engineers, two from Dryden and the third from the Navy's Air Systems Command, for presenting the best technical report at this year's AIAA Aerospace Sciences Conference.
Dryden's Michael Jacob "Jake" Vachon and Ronald J. Ray, along with Carl Calianno of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Patuxent River, Md., were cited for their paper entitled "Calculated Drag of an Aerial Refueling Assembly through Airplane Performance Analysis." The report, presented at the 42nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting & Exhibit in Reno, Nev., earlier this year, was named Best Paper by the AIAA's Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Technical committee.
The 18-page technical report was based on their work in the Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) flight research project conducted at Dryden last year. The project focused on developing accurate analytic models from actual flight test data to aid in development of the design of an autonomous aerial refueling system that could be used by either piloted aircraft or autonomously operated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the future.
As part of the research, Vachon, Ray and Calianno calculated the aerodynamic drag of an aerial refueling assembly. A specially instrumented F/A-18A airplane equipped with a standard Navy air refueling hose and paradrogue - a small parachute - mounted to its centerline pylon was used to obtain accurate fuel flow measurements and determine engine thrust. As the paradrogue assembly was deployed and stowed during flight, changes in the calculated thrust of the airplane occurred and were equated to changes in vehicle drag attributable to the drag of the paradrogue assembly. The AAR flight test data also were corroborated with wind tunnel data and represent the first-ever quantitative investigation of the drag of a fully integrated aerial refueling system during flight. The results support the development of accurate aerodynamic models to be used in refueling simulations and control laws for fully autonomous refueling.
Vachon and Ray are employed in the Propulsion and Performance Branch of the Research Engineering Directorate at Dryden. They, along with NAVAIR's Calianno, will receive their Certificates of Merit at an annual awards luncheon during the 2004 AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference in Providence, R.I., later this year.
An abstract of their report, No. NASA-TM-2004-212043, may be viewed online at:
The paper is also available from the AIAA web site at:
http://www.aiaa.com, report No. AIAA-2004-0381.