The Business of Dynamically-Scaled Flight
"[NASA] Langley has been in this business, as you will find out, for over 80 years. It's a compliment to the Agency that it's invested the funds and the manpower into keeping that corporate knowledge and facilities in operation for all those 80 years. It’s been referred to as one of the many the crown jewels in Langley’s legacy and I'd like to dedicate this to the thousands of people that have worked in support of these projects." — Joseph Chambers
Retired researcher and author Joseph Chambers took his June Colloquium audience at NASA’s Langley Research Center through many decades of free-flight modeling using videos and images as he presented: "Modeling Flight: The Role of Dynamically Scaled Free-Flying Models in NASA's Research Programs."
His lecture was based on his NASA publication, Modeling Flight
, with a concentration on Langley's contributions in dynamic scaling. As Chambers explained, "dynamic" free-flight models are unrestrained and focus on unique flight behavior data, which differentiate them from conventional "static" models that are sting-mounted for precise performance data.
NACA and NASA developed experimental testing techniques in unique facilities using free-flying scaled models that ultimately became vital analysis tools for NASA and the aerospace industry.
After a brief discussion of the model scaling laws required and the applications of dynamically-scaled models, free-flying models were illustrated through numerous video clips showing results of model tests in several facilities compared with results from flight tests of full-scale vehicles. The visuals began with results from the biplane era of the 1920s and covered applications to today's aerospace configurations.
The scope of results includes military aircraft, civil transports, general aviation airplanes, spacecraft and capsules, and parawing vehicles.
Joe Chambers retired from the NASA Langley Research Center in 1998 after a 36-year career. He began his career in 1962 in flight dynamics research at the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel. In 1974 he became the head of the Full-Scale Tunnel, the Langley 20-Foot Spin Tunnel, and related outdoor free-flight and drop-model testing. In 1989 he also became head of aircraft flight research at Langley. In 1994 he was assigned to organize and manage a new group responsible for conducting systems-level analysis of the potential payoffs of advanced aircraft concepts and technology to help guide NASA investments in aeronautical technology. He served as a representative of the United States on international committees and has given invited lectures on NASA’s aeronautics programs worldwide.
To view his full lecture with images and video, please visit
NASA Langley Research Center