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JetStar Shines Again
A Dryden C-140 JetStar recently refurbished by the City of Palmdale is on display at the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark adjacent to Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale.

JetStar in flight over California Desert Volunteers and Palmdale city workers refurbished the exterior of the aircraft, which was used at Dryden from 1964 to 1989. All exterior surfaces were restored, including decals and logos.

Image right: The C-140 JetStar flies over the high desert during a Dryden-based research flight. (NASA Photo)

The JetStar, which is on loan from Dryden, was restored during a 60-day effort that wrapped up in August 2007. The effort required 500 volunteer work hours, 52 work hours from Palmdale public works maintenance staff members and 36 gallons of paint.

Built by Lockheed, the JetStar arrived at Dryden in May 1963 and carried tail number 814. One of the many uses of the aircraft was in co-operation with Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center, Cleveland, where it was used in investigating acoustical characteristics of a series of subscale, advanced-design propellers in the early 1980s. The propellers were designed to rotate at a tip speed faster than the speed of sound; they were, in effect, a "swept-back wing" version of a propeller.

In addition, the JetStar was modified with the installation of an air turbine drive system. The drive motor, with a 24-inch test propeller, was mounted in a pylon atop the JetStar. The plane was equipped with an array of 28 microphones flush-mounted in the fuselage beneath the propeller. Microphones mounted on the wings and on accompanying chase aircraft provided far-field acoustic data.

In the aircraft's earliest uses in the 1960s, it was equipped with an electronic variable-stability flight control system. Called a General Purpose Airborne Simulator, the JetStar could duplicate the flight characteristics of a wide variety of advanced aircraft and was used for supersonic transport and general aviation research, and as a training and support system for Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests at Dryden in 1977.

In the 1970s the JetStar was part of cooperative industry-government program that attempted to establish noise characteristics and determine the effectiveness of alternate landing-approach procedures in reducing community noise levels. The aircraft flew four different types of landing approaches over a microphone array; the noise level of each approach was evaluated and compared with proposed Federal Aviation Administration noise limits.

And in 1985, the JetStar's wings were modified with suction and spray devices in a laminar (smooth) air flow program to study ways of improving the flow of air over the wings of airliners. The program also studied ways of reducing collection of ice and insects on airliner wings.

More information about Joe Davis Heritage Park and photos of the JetStar and other aircraft on display there is available at

Jay Levine
X-Press Editor
Dryden Flight Research Center