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October 7, 1998
QuestChat with Mark Stucky

Aerospace Research Test Pilot
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Edwards, CA

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 14 - 09:02:17 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Hello to our early arriving ADTO/TGIR particiapnts! Today's Aerospace Team Online/Turning Goals Into Reality chat with Mark Stucky from NASADryden Flight Research Center will begin at 9:00 a.m. today. Be sure you have read Mark's biography at http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/PAO/PAIS/HTML/bd-dfrc-p020.html before joining this chat. Once the chat begins, Mark will attempt to answer as many of your questions as he can, but please be patient. In the event that we begin to receive too many questions during the chat, the chat may be "moderated." This means that only a few questions will be posted at a time, until Mark can catch up with us. So we ask that you give Mark time to answer your questions before submitting new ones.
Good morning from everyone!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 08:24:12 ]
As a reminder, remember to enter "Your Handle" in the box provided, before posting questions to the chat room. Once you've done this, please let us know that you have logged on for today's chat. At the conclusion of today's chat, you will have an opportunity to give us feedback about it. We encourage you to take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us by responding to our QuestChat Feedback survey at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. Your responses, comments and suggestions will help us with future chats. We hope to hear from you!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 08:52:11 ]
RE: [CookesClass-LeedsCentralSchool] Which aircraft did you enjoy flying the most?
Good morning Cookes, we will begin our chat in about 10 minutes. Please stay with us.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 12 - 09:00:54 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] Ypsilanti COPE is excited to be here to chat with Mark Stucky!
Thanks for joining us today, Ypsilanti! We'll begin shortly.

[ JohnandTimothy-Mr.L/RussellElementary - 15 - 09:02:44 ]
John and Timothy from Russell Elementary in Georgia are standing by ready to go!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 16 - 09:02:47 ]
And now, here is Mark Stucky to answer your questions.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 18 - 09:04:37 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Good morning Cookes, we will beginour chat in about 10 minutes. Please stay with us.
If I had one single flight in an aircraft it would be the SR-71. Really an amazing plane. For overall, day-to-day enjoyment, though, I really love the F-18 Hornet. It does everything very well.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 22 - 09:07:28 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What is the most rewarding aspect of your job or career? The least?
The most rewarding aspect is being able to work (and get paid!) for something I love to do. I think that is the secret to finding the right job for you -- find something you really enjoy. Aside from the flying, it is rewarding to feel a part of the team that is contributing to the advancement of flight research. The least rewarding? That's a tougher question. Sometimes there are more meetings than time available! I am forced to pick those that I think I can contribute best to.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 23 - 09:08:30 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy-Mr.L/RussellElementary] how do testpilots get chosen to test a new aircraft
Like so many things in life, timing in everything. You may be picked because of some level of experience you have in a particular program but more often than not, you get picked because it is simply your turn!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 30 - 09:10:47 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What are the major differences in flying supersonic versus subsonic aircraft?
There isn't a big difference between subsonic and supersonic aircraft of the same type. For instance a subsonic attack airplane like an A-7 or A-4 flies similarly to a supersonic capable F-4 or F-18. The bigger differences are between aircraft types. There is a huge difference between a general aviation aircraft like a Cessna-172 and a subsonic transport like a Boeing-747. There is also a big difference between a supersonic fighter and a supersonic transport (like the Concorde).

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 34 - 09:11:41 ]
RE: [CookesClass-LeedsCentralSchool] We had the great pleasure of getting the moon rocks for our school here in Leeds, Maine. Have you even seen the moon rocks?
I have seen moon rocks. I've seen them in Houston as well as at the Smithsonian museum.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 37 - 09:14:19 ]
RE: [Robert-Mr.Bond/CatasauquaHighSchool] What causes a sonic boom?
Oh, oh. Asking aerodynamic questions of a pilot! The best short answer I can give is as the aircraft speeds up the sound waves compress on the front of the aircraft (like the bow waves you see in front of a boat). When the aircraft exceeds the speed of sound the waves can no longer move forward of the plane (they are going as fast as they can) and the stack up to form the shock wave. A shock wave also forms at the rear of the plane but unless the plane is big (like the Space Shuttle) you only hear one BOOM.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 38 - 09:15:24 ]
RE: [CookesClass-LeedsCentralSchool] Have you ever had to crash land?
I have had emergency landings due to engine failures, fires, and other malfunctions but I've never "Crash" landed or ejected. Knock on wood :)

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 39 - 09:17:13 ]
RE: [Sarabeth/Briones] What should you study to be a research pilot?
The best subjects are the sciences. Many pilots have aerodynamic backgrounds but mine was a more general science degree.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 41 - 09:18:47 ]
RE: [Robert-Mr.Bond/CatasauquaHighSchool] who was the pilot who towed you around
There were two pilots. Major Stu Farmer and Major Kelly Lattimar, both of them are USAF pilots. Notice that Kelly is a female test pilot.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 42 - 09:20:20 ]
RE: [JOE-Mr.Bond/CatasauquaHighSchool] what is your present position with NASA
My official job title is Aerospace Research Research Pilot / Engineer. In truth I do little engineering but it does help me ask the right questions.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 43 - 09:22:08 ]
RE: [Deb-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] [It's nice to know that meetings consume time in fields other than education! :-)] Could you please tell us what attitudes and practices were emphasized in your training to become a test pilot?
Attitudes and practices? They stress being accurate. Data is of little use of it was gained at the wrong conditions. Being as professional as you can be helps in everything, whether you're delivering newpapers (been there, done that) or trying to exactly hit an altitude and airspeed while pulling multipe "G"s inverted.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 47 - 09:24:43 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy-Mr.L/RussellElementary] Has any body goten hurt testing a jet or space craft
Yes, crashes occasionally happen. The last crash here was in the X-31 program. The flight control computers lost their airpseed input (due to icing) and the unstable aircraft became uncontrollable. Although the pilot ejected, he broke his back in the process. There most dramatic example of a space test failure was the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Although the Shuttle is "operational" all of us test pilots know that every flight into space is really a test flight.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 48 - 09:26:43 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] What kind of training does a test pilot do
First you get a college education. Then you go to flight school. Then you get a good deal of flight experience and hopefully get selected for a Test Pilot School. There is other training that is a part of being a pilot -- ejection seat training, survival training, altitude chamber, etc. We go to refresher classes in these things every few years. Typically, they are kind of fun.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 49 - 09:27:58 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] How is the modern day test pilot business similar and different from the early days of pilots like General Chuck Yeager and in the film The Right Stuff?
Probably more structured. We don't go up and do something just because we feel like it! Everything is planned out in advance and approved by a safety committee. This helps reduce errors and "close-calls".

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 53 - 09:29:04 ]
RE: [Pete] What is the difference between hypersonic and supersonic travel?
Hypersonic is flight at high supersonic speeds -- like greater than 5 times the speed of sound.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 54 - 09:30:13 ]
RE: [CookesClass] Would you like to go into space?
Sign me up! I think any test pilot worth his (or her) salt would like to fly into space. Unfortunately, there are still too few of opportunities.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 55 - 09:30:52 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] what kind of jets have you tested
The majority of my testing has been in military fighters such as the F-4, F-16, and F-18.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 59 - 09:31:55 ]
RE: [Robert] Do you ever have a fear of crashing?
Not a fear of crashing but I do think about it on occasion. Typically it is due to something new we are testing. I think about what the specific dangers are and how best to deal with them. I think that makes me safer and I will react better if the need arises.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 60 - 09:32:44 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] How fast can the blackbird go
It was designed for an operational mission speed of Mach 3 at 85,000 feet altitude.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 61 - 09:34:35 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] what other cours did you take besides geomentry and computers
Anything technical helps. But don't forget other things help too. Being all-technical limits you somewhat and you may not find out you have other talents like music or art.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 62 - 09:35:01 ]
EVERYONE, at the conclusion of today's chat, please let us know what you thought about it at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 66 - 09:36:28 ]
RE: [Pete] Why did your plane have to be towed to be tested?
I was towed in a modified F-106 as a proof-of-concept for a space launch proposal. Instead of having big rockets to lift you above the atmosphere, the proposal is to have a large aircraft tow a winged space vehicle up high. Once there, the spacecraft would light its engine, release the line and climb into space. Our towing of the F-106 proved you can safely tow a delta winged aircraft (like the proposed space vehicle).

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 67 - 09:37:10 ]
We would like to invite you to participate in our next chat today, which will immediately follow Mark's chat. Be sure to check the ADTO chat schedule page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats for more information.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 68 - 09:38:18 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] What made you want to become a test pilot
I always wanted to fly and grew up a big NASA fan. I loved reading stories of the rocket planes and space program. Once I started flying things came easy -- once again, if you find something you really like, you may surprise yourself at how easy it is to do well at it. Being a NASA test pilot always seemed like the best flying job around.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 69 - 09:39:38 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] How fast can the Goodyear Blimp go
Let me see... I had one flight in it in 1989. Just a demonstration to broaden my background. If I remember right it cruises around 30 mph and can probably exceed 40 mph.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 70 - 09:40:43 ]
RE: [Ken] what is the farthest you have ever flew?
I've flown F-4s across the Pacific Ocean several times. Typically, you plan a series of flights, each one about 2000 miles long with multiple air-to-air refuelings.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 74 - 09:43:30 ]
RE: [Dane] What is your schedule or routine like on a typical day?
It varies. In this job we normally have 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. workdays. We rarely test or fly at night or on weekends. I usually fly several times per week but all research programs have cycles where you fly a lot and then don't fly while data is being analyzed. I last flew this morning. An F-18 from 7:30 to 8:45. Ran up to the office and got on the computer for the 9:00 chat!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 75 - 09:45:06 ]
RE: [MrBond] I see you got your interest in flying from hang gliding. What keeps a hang glider airborne, since there is no acceleration?
The acceleration is provided by gravity. With forward airspeed, the wings provide lift. A good hang glider goes about 13 feet forward for every 1 foot it descends. It flies around 25 mph and sinks around 200 feet per minute.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 79 - 09:46:31 ]
RE: [CookesClass] Why is your nickname "Forger"?
Probably too long of a story! In the military (especially the Navy/Marines) you are given a callsign early in your flying career. Some people think I got it because I "forge" ahead. Other people are scared to leave their checkbook out. I'll never tell!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 80 - 09:47:24 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] are you married
Yes, I've been married to Joan for 18 years. I have three children -- Sascha (14), Lauren (11), and Dillon (9).

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 84 - 09:50:22 ]
RE: [Deb] You made an excellent point reminding us that all flights into space are test flights. In your working instructing the shuttle pilots, what special considerations did you have in working with them to handle their unique craft?
All shuttle pilots are test pilots. They are intelligent and highly trained. Only occasionally would I feel a need to pass on some advice. Most of the instructional duty was really just giving annual checkrides or flying the aircraft into a position for them to practice their simulated shuttle approaches.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 85 - 09:51:33 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] What is the most dangerous thing about being a test pilot
I guess that you are simply flying. Despite what some say, flying is inherently dangerous. You can increase your safety and live to a ripe old age by being smart, knowing your limits and the aircraft's limits and trying not to exceed them.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 86 - 09:51:47 ]
RE: [CookesClass] What is your favorite planet?

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 87 - 09:52:54 ]
RE: [Bob] Did hang gliders pique your interest in flying? Also, what keeps a hang glider up, since there is no acceleration?
I always wanted to fly and began hang gliding at age 15 because it was the only way I could afford to fly. Although that was 25 years ago, I still find hang gliding and paragliding an extremely rewarding form of flight and look forward to doing it on weekends.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 91 - 09:54:27 ]
RE: [Pete] What is the purpose in being able to tow a plane?
It can be a way to save expensive rocket fuel. It also provides flexibility in launch trajectories and launch windows.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 92 - 09:55:33 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] How long does it take the Blackbird to reach cruising altitude
On a normal flight you refuel airborne about 15 minutes after takeoff. If you don't refuel, you could be "on conditions" in about 20 minutes. It really gets up and goes!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 93 - 09:56:33 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] do they test jets in the desert
It's smart to do test flying away from populated areas and in places where the weather is good and sonic booms don't disturb as many people. Edwards AFB is perfect!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 94 - 09:56:34 ]
EVERYONE, Mark has agreed to stay with us past 10:00 a.m. today. We will continue our chat as long as we can, and Mark will answer as many of your questions as he can while he can stay with us. For those of you leaving us, please let us know what you thought of today's chat at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. You can reach register for other ADTO chats at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 98 - 09:57:53 ]
RE: [CookesClass] What is your favorite television show?
Dawson's Creek. Just kidding, I've never seen it but I know my daughter always wants to watch it. I'm a boring guy who likes surfing through the Discovery Channel, watching a news program like 20/20, and the occasional football game.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 99 - 09:58:36 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] do you need to know about astronemny to be a test pilot
No you don't. I do have a bit of a background in astronomy and I think it has helped me slightly on occasion but it is not a requirement.

[ DebandDane - 100 - 09:59:06 ]
Ypsilanti COPE thanks you for your time and your thoughtful answers. Thanks to all who contributed such interesting questions! Logging off to prepare for the next chat!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 102 - 09:59:54 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] Has anything ever gone wrong when you were testing an aircraft
Sure, little things go wrong pretty frequently. Bigger things go wrong on rare occasions. In truth, all the big emergencies I've had occurred as a military pilot and never while doing any testing!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 106 - 10:00:39 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] What is your favorite plane that you have flown
The SR-71 is a tremendously "cool" airplane. The F-18 is an outstanding all-around fighter.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 107 - 10:00:58 ]
RE: [CookesClass] Thank-you for chatting with us, today:)
My pleasure, lots of great questions.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 108 - 10:02:00 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] Is it frightening to test a new aircraft
Well, it can get your attention! I find myself visualizing what I'm about to do and trying to mentally prepare myself for possible contingencies.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 109 - 10:03:14 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] What do you do if you start running out of fuel do you refill it
Just like when you're driving a car. You need to plan your flight to include a turn around fuel amount to safely make it back or to a tanker. If you are going to a tanker you also need to reserve enough to make it to a base if the tanker doesn't give you any gas!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 110 - 10:04:08 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] what kind of other jobs test pilots do
We provide comments and opinions on planning for future tests. We help think of emergencies and ways of dealing with them. We try to design flight plans that will best accomplish the research.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 115 - 10:05:11 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] how many jets have you tested in one lifetime or to lifetimes
I've flown over 50 different aircraft (not including hang gliders!). I have only tested, maybe 6 or 7 types.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 116 - 10:05:45 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] do you know any astronauts who where test pilots
I know most of the astronauts except those that were picked in the last couple of years.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 117 - 10:06:36 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] has your life goal had anything to do with jets
Sure, it was more having to do with flying things that went high and fast. Jets are part of that but I wouldn't want to limit myself to jets, let's make some more rocket planes!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 118 - 10:07:04 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] where does the word black bird come from and why did they name the jet that
It is painted black like a big bird!

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 122 - 10:09:12 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] Dose your family ever get worried that you will crash?
They do mention it on occasion, mainly when I'm trying to do something else that I might think would be fun and they might think is dangerous (hang gliding, rock climbing, etc.)

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 128 - 10:09:45 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] where will you think they will be testing jets in the future
Hopefully, here at NASA Dryden! It is the perfect place.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 129 - 10:10:39 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] do you have any brothers who go in the same business or sisters
I have three sisters. All of them are older. One's a nurse, one teaches sixth grade, one lives in Europe.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 131 - 10:11:40 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] Have any of the aircrafts you tested gone to space?
None have gone into space. The SR-71 and U-2 fly high enough that you have to wear a space suit but space is officially 50 miles up.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 132 - 10:12:27 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] have you ever had other careers before being a test pilot
I was a military fighter pilot prior to being selected for Test Pilot School. I had a few odd jobs prior to graduating from college.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 133 - 10:13:18 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] Have you ever crashed?
No crashes, a hard landing maybe!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 134 - 10:13:44 ]
While Mark finishes answering questions, we would like to once again invite you to let us know what you thought of today's chat at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. You may also learn about the chat with Brent Nowlin from Lewis Research Center. You can register for the chat at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats.

[ MarkStucky/DFRC - 135 - 10:13:51 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] what is your favriote sport
I really enjoy hang gliding, skiing, and climbing. My favorite spectator sport is football.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 140 - 10:25:35 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] will you ever chat again
John and Timothy, we certainly hope to have Mark Stucky online to chat with us agin in the future. Be sure to check the ADTO chat schedule page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats and our schedule of events page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events to find out about upcoming chats. Thank you again for joining us today!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 136 - 10:15:02 ]
This concludes our chat with Mark Stucky from NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. Thank you to everyone for joining us, and a VERY BIG THANKS to Mark for sharing his time and expertise with us today!

[ JohnandTimothy - 138 - 10:23:38 ]
We are happy to have chatted with you. signed Timothy, Katie,and John. thank you for takeing the time to talk to us Mr. Stuky by. from Russell Elementary at Atlanta Georiga.


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