Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
November 13, 2003
NASA Visitor Center Unveils "Adventures In Flight"
NASA's Langley Research Center visitor center in Hampton, Va., is celebrating the centennial of flight by unveiling a new state-of-the-art, interactive gallery. The one million-cubic-foot "Adventures in Flight" in the Virginia Air & Space Center (VASC) chronicles the history of aviation, and NASA's contributions to flight.
The $6.4 million gallery features a classic DC-9 airplane. The plane invites visitors to sit at the controls of a "glass cockpit" simulator. NASA researchers helped develop glass cockpit technology in the 1970s. Cockpit displays show pilots information with the help of computer graphics and have replaced gauges and dials in many aircraft.
NASA Associate Administrator for Aerospace Technology, Victor Lebacqz, represented the agency at the gallery opening. "I was entranced with the airplane simulators. That's what I've done in the past with all the old airplanes and fighters, but mostly with the interactive exhibits that permit students to play with tools of the trade," Lebacqz said. "The display is wonderful. You just won't find a simulator like that anywhere else," he said.
The new gallery helps illustrate NASA's vital role in the development of modern commercial air transportation and military aviation. It also shows how research is creating new technology for the next century of flight. The VASC captured futuristic designs in a special NASA display that shows airplane concepts that may some day fly on an interstate skyway. The exhibit depicts next-generation aircraft and systems being developed by NASA researchers who are studying ways to make planes efficient, safer and quieter.
Also new to the center is a NASA research aircraft that tested technology to improve the safety and maneuverability of military jet fighters in combat situations. NASA engineers used the F-18 HARV (High Alpha Research Vehicle) to study airflow, aircraft control and engine performance at high angles of attack, the extreme flight attitudes experienced by jets during air combat missions. Systems tested on the F-18 HARV were applied to new military fighters, including the F-22 Raptor.
The gallery adds to an already impressive collection of NASA artifacts at the VASC. They include the Apollo XII capsule that carried Americans on the second moon landing mission, a moon rock and a NASA aircraft that was repeatedly struck by lightning for safety research.
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