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March 11, 1999
QuestChat with Fred Culick

Project Engineer, Wright Flyer
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA



[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 2 - 09:44:12 ]
Hello and welcome to another Quest chat! Today's chat with Wright Flyer Project Engineer Fred Culick will begin in about 15 minutes from now (10 am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern). Be sure you have read Fred's bio at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/culick.html

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 3 - 09:46:13 ]
A great quote from Fred's bio-- "...my early love of airplanes has been a lasting influence. Having a strong interest in something like that makes life a lot more fun and interesting. And it makes it easier to do the hard work that is always necessary to succeed."

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 7 - 09:59:37 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Ypsilanti COPE is exicted about beginning today's chat!
Hello! So glad you could make it to our chat today. Fred will be ready to chat in 5 minutes...

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 10 - 10:01:42 ]
Jimmy & Dane: Where is YpsilantiCOPE? And, what grade are you in?

[ JimmyandDaneandLonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 12 - 10:03:27 ]
Ypsilanti COPE is four miles from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We are in the seventh grade.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 13 - 10:04:56 ]
EVERYONE: Fred is here and ready to take your questions! Welcome Fred!

[ JimmyandDaneandLonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 14 - 10:05:32 ]
Hello! We are glad to meet you!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 15 - 10:05:47 ]
RE: [JimmyandDaneandLonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Ypsilanti COPE is four miles from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We are in the seventh grade.
With all the snow you've gotten in the last couple of days, I'm surprised you were able to make it to school today!

[ FredCulick/Caltech/WrightFlyer - 16 - 10:05:53 ]
RE: [Jimmy-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] When did you finish your first model plane?
I did not finish my first model-or my second...!When I did finally complete one,I suppose it took a few weeks-I really don't remember...My first completed model was VERY SIMPLE...then later airplanes like the Piper CUB and gliders.

[ FredCulick/Caltech/WrightFlyer - 18 - 10:07:34 ]
RE: [Lonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What are the specific reasons wind tunnel tests are important for the future of a piloted Wright Flyer replica?
I think that the reasons are explained in my biography on the NASA Quest page..

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 20 - 10:12:38 ]
EVERYONE: Hold on a sec, Fred lost his connection to the chat room and is trying to get back in...

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 23 - 10:14:15 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] How will you simulate wing warping in the unpiloted replica in the wind tunnel?
Sandy for Fred: The wing warping in our replica is exactly the same as in the Wright airplane. All the controls are moved by actuators mounted on the model and operated remotely from the control room.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 25 - 10:16:27 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] At any point did any of the models of the Wright Flyer get broken or destroyed by testing?
Sandy for Fred: My 1/6th scale model that I tested received internal structural damage.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 27 - 10:18:53 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What was the Wright's rationale for locating the tail in the front of the plane?
Sandy for Fred: Two previous pilots, Lillianthal in Germany and Pilcher in England, were killed testing gliders with tails in the rear. The Wrights were afraid of that. Also, they could see what the tail was doing when it was in front of them.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 29 - 10:20:26 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What kinds of wood are used in the Flyer? Were identical materials used in the version tested at Cal Tech?
The woods are mainly fir and spruce just like the Wrights used. The model I built was made from plywood and spruce.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 33 - 10:23:51 ]
RE: [Jimmy-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] How many models are in your collection? Do you have many models of airplanes built in other countries?
Sandy for Fred: In my office I have a dozen small plastic models that I built. At home a dozen; and quite a few are airplanes built in other countries. I have 75-80 plastic models that are still unbuilt. I have 8-10 flying models made of wood/cloth.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 36 - 10:26:35 ]
RE: [Lonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What is a typical day like in your job?
Sandy for Fred: I get up at 6:30 am. I work at home from 8-10 am. In my office I spend most of time answering phone calls, talking to students, having meetings with research students and going to one-hour seminars two to three times per week (in the afternoon). This year I have classes from 8-10 am on Tuesdays and Thusdays. I finally have time for myself from 5-7 pm. A lot of my work I get done at home from 8 until midnight!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 39 - 10:30:04 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] You have certainly had a very distinguished career to date. What do you consider to be your greatest success and your greatest frustration or unresolved challenge?
Sandy for Fred: My greatest success... I have a grown family with three children and I've been married 39 years! To me, that is my greatest success! There are constant challenges at work because the field I'm in is very competitive. My frustration is that I don't have enough time to do my art: painting, photography & etching. I'm lucky because I have a small studio in my home, so when I get the chance, I can go in there and work/play!

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 41 - 10:31:59 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Could you tell me about the differences between the wind tunnel the Wrights used and the ones you use today? Is any of the information gathered the same?
Sandy for Fred: Their tunnel was very small and operated at very low speed, so the data were not really accurate for what they wanted. It gave them approximate results, which really weren't good enough.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 42 - 10:33:34 ]
RE: [Jimmy-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What kinds of books have you written? Are they all about planes?
Sandy for Fred: I've edited a book about aeronautical history. I have published a book on aerodynamics and airfoil theory, and I have in progress a book on combustion systems.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 45 - 10:35:56 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What was the hardest part of assembling the Flyer?
Sandy for Fred: The hardest part was covering it with the cloth. The second part was assembling the airplane upside down, supported in a jig. And then we placed on the wing and tail surfaces, 3000 lbs of sand divided into 2500 small plastic bags. The reason for that was to show the plane was strong enough to stay together in the NASA wind tunnel.

[ Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 46 - 10:37:27 ]
Marilyn Ramsey told us about putting the sand in the bags for the test. There was a lot of work just to get ready.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 47 - 10:38:26 ]
EVERYONE: Fred was finally able to reconnect! So he will now be typing in his own answers to you. Before, he was reading his answers to your questions over the phone to me, and I was typing them in for you!

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 49 - 10:39:55 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What are some of the modifications you think might have to be made in order to make the Flyer safer and more stable?
The most important change is to use a slightly different airfoil.Then we will make the canard slightly larger and possibly moved forward a bit. Finally we must have the center of gravity more forward than the Wrights' did.

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 51 - 10:42:01 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] You mention that your research includes solid and liquid propellant rockets. What is the trend toward propellant selection for future shuttle flights?
Perhaps performance will be improved by using higher pressures...it seems that the propellants won't change much in the near future.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 52 - 10:43:20 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Thank you, Sandy and Fred, for bearing through the technical glitches! A regular occurrence for those of us who teach! :-)
Thank you for your patience :-) We experience these type of glitches on a pretty regular basis also!

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 53 - 10:44:09 ]
RE: [Lonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] How do you use the wind tunnel at Cal Tech as part of your normal work? How big is the wind tunnel there?
We use small wind tunnels for special research--the tunnel I used for my model tests was 10 feet in diameter--it is no longer here and is being replaced by a smaller more modern tunnel.

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 54 - 10:44:52 ]
RE: [Lonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Who actually assembled the Wright Flyer replica?
WE DID! All of us who worked to build it.

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 56 - 10:47:19 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Your flight around the 48 states sounds wonderful! We are going to map a route to try to simulate that kind of flight. What was your starting point?
El Monte, California. The Quest project (the people sponsoring this chat) will put a picture of our route on the web page where my autobiography is next week.

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 57 - 10:49:28 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What is the greatest number of people you think will ever fly in the Flyer at once?
Only one at a time-- the wing is big enough to lift more, but not strong enough.

[ Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 58 - 10:50:08 ]
We will look forward to viewing a picture of your route! We'll use our flight simulator and try to replicate it! We happen to be on a US geography review unit (connected to the NCAA tournament of all things). Thanks for sharing!!

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 59 - 10:50:52 ]
RE: [Lonnie-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] So the people who built it actually understood everything about how it worked? They didn't need to just read directions from somebody else's plans?
We had only plans, no instructions, so we had to figure out how to assemble it. I learned how by building my 7-foot model.

[ DaneLonnieJimmyDeb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 60 - 10:53:29 ]
We have enjoyed this chat and all of the news about the Wright Flyer replica project! Thank you for your time and for making the Wright Flyer Project a reality!

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 61 - 10:54:58 ]
Dane-we will build the piloted FLYER somewhere in the Los Angeles area. It will be built as we built the test model, with the changes I mentioned. Many smaller parts, people will build at their homes.

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 62 - 10:56:09 ]
The cloth is attached with thick airplane dope.

[ Sandy/NASAChatHost - 63 - 10:58:29 ]
EVERYONE; Thanks so much for chatting with Fred today. You asked excellent questions!!! Please be sure to fill out the short chat survey at the following URL to let us know how you enjoyed the chat: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys

[ FredCulick/AIAA - 64 - 10:59:00 ]
Good-bye all.I very much enjoyed our little chat-- it was too short! You all have many really good questions.I will be interested to see the route you find to tour the US.

[ All-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 65 - 10:59:30 ]
Thank you again!

 
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