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Volume 46 | Issue 7 | August 27, 2004

People and Places

photo: X-43 Crew.

Engineers Brad Neal, left, and Laurie Marshall, from Dryden's X-43A team, joined Langley Research Center X-43A team member Chuck McClinton to brief attendees of the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture 2004 on the record-breaking March 27 flight of the hypersonic X-43A. Courtesy Photo.

Oshkosh 2004

Fresh from a record-setting Mach 6.8 X-43A scramjet flight success this March, engineers from Dryden and Langley Research Center on July 28 told a standing-room-only crowd at the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture event what it was like to operate the first successful scramjet-powered flight vehicle. Using Dryden video to reprise the March 27 launch, the presenters at Oshkosh also used actual flight data to prepare remarkable computer-generated video graphics depicting every movement of the hypersonic craft as it flew where no chase plane could follow.

Engineers Laurie Marshall and Brad Neal from Dryden's X-43A team joined Langley's Chuck McClinton onstage for the fast-paced briefing, which conveyed the sense of excitement and dedication NASA's far-reaching projects bring to the men and women who nurture them to success.

The X-43A trio shared the stage with Rich Antcliff, Langley's vehicle systems program deputy director, who gave a tantalizing peek at futuristic personal air vehicle concepts being studied at NASA.

NASA's accomplishments in aeronautics and space were on display for the public at EAA AirVenture 2004, held July 27 through August 2 in Oshkosh, Wis. AirVenture 2004 attracted about 700,000 aviation enthusiasts from around the world. Agency employees staffed the expansive NASA exhibit, explaining the projects they were working on and answering visitors' questions. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe visited EAA AirVenture July 28 to discuss the nation's vision for space exploration, announced by the president in January.

 Also on July 28, J. Victor Lebacqz, NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, toured the huge AirVenture site and conducted a press conference about the Small Aircraft Transportation System program. Langley's experiment-ready white Cirrus SR22X general-aviation aircraft was on display to illustrate progress being made in the SATS program.

 The SATS program is a NASA technology research partnership with the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration and state and local aviation and airport authorities. The project's initial focus is to prove that on-board computing, advanced flight controls, intuitive cockpit displays and automated air traffic separation and sequencing technologies will make future on-demand flights safe and accessible for a large percentage of the population.

photo: NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe welcomes attendees at EAA AirVenture 2004 at Oshkosh, Wis., in July. Agency projects and personnel showcasing NASA's far-reaching vision were on display for the public in exhibits, forums and static displays at the annual event. Courtesy Photo.

Several Dryden employees contributed to NASA's presence at Oshkosh, noted Cam Martin, Dryden's external relations director. Dryden pilot Mark Pestana conducted a NASA forum on aeronautics research at Dryden. Pestana also exhibited one of his paintings by invitation in a special EAA gallery showing.

In another NASA forum, titled "Bringing UAVs into the National Airspace," Dryden engineer Rodney K. Bogue discussed the Access 5 program, intended to provide recommendations to the FAA for rules and certifications governing incorporation of unmanned air vehicles in the national airspace. Gary S. Martin gave a forum presentation titled "Dull, Dirty or Dangerous? Send a UAV!"

"Adapting to In-Flight Damage" was the theme of Jennifer L. Hansen's AirVenture forum. "NASA's Wing Warping Jet: F-18 AAW" was presented by Corey Diebler. Matt Graham told the Oshkosh audience about Dryden's NB-52B air launch mothership. And Martin gave an overview titled "NASA X-Planes: Flight Research Update." Dryden public affairs director Fred Johnsen returned to AirVenture as NASA liaison to the daily AirVenture Today newspaper, writing articles supporting the Agency for that publication and the NASA Web portal. Not everyone from Dryden arrived by commercial air; vacationing Mark Collard flew his own vintage Globe Swift single-engine airplane to Oshkosh.

Back at Dryden, videographer Steve Parcel prepared in advance video used by NASA presenters at AirVenture. During the show, Marty Curry and Gray Creech formatted Web stories received at Dryden to facilitate quick posting to the NASA Web portal. Visitors to the NASA exhibit learned about the concept of shaped sonic booms, which are the subject of research leading to quieter passage of supersonic aircraft overhead. NASA and industry partners tested a specially modified F-5 supersonic jet fighter over Dryden earlier this year to explore how the testbed's enlarged forward fuselage could reduce the decibel level of sonic booms.

A scale model of a new parametric jet engine inlet highlighted another area of supersonic research that shows promise. The experimental inlet, designed and tested at Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, could make supersonic engines lighter and more efficient and eliminate the problem of engine unstart, a condition in which supersonic shockwaves entering a jet inlet drastically reduce the amount of air reaching the engine, causing a loss of thrust.

The Wright flyer simulator returned for an encore at the NASA AirVenture exhibit. Annual NASA exhibit favorites like the NASA craftsman displays showed aeronautical technology in action. NASA education specialists worked the show's KidVenture area and the main NASA exhibit, so educators could learn more about the Agency's educational materials and partnerships like the Explorer Schools program.

photo: OshKosh 2004 Air Show.

Courtesy Photo from the Air Venture Event.

Visitors to the NASA exhibit heard about efforts to identify technologies that could enable uninhabited aerial vehicles to enter the national airspace system safely. UAVs' many potential uses include national security; the unpiloted vehicles could one day patrol lonely stretches of America's international borders. Some of NASA's UAV ambitions are - literally - out of this world: a discussion of "Flight on Other Worlds" in the exhibit area forecast the day when remotely piloted aircraft will obtain scientific data while flying over the surface of Mars. Other concepts represented included balloons and blimps buoyed by the harsh atmospheres of other planets. It's all part of NASA's vision for space exploration.

The NASA/FAA-sponsored Revolutionary Vehicles Student Competition presentations were made on July 30. High school and college students took part in a brief awards ceremony followed by student winners' presentations detailing ideas for personal air vehicles and unmanned air vehicles.

Visitors to EAA AirVenture 2004 tried their hand at flying approaches using the experimental Synthetic Vision Systems-General Aviation portable simulator from Langley. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., brought to Oshkosh its commitment to revolutionizing air traffic management in the form of an interactive digital display called "Edgarville Airport - Take Off to the Future of Air Travel."