October 7, 1998
QuestChat with Mark Stucky
Aerospace Research Test Pilot
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
- 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!
- 7 - 08:24:12 ]
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- 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.
- 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
- 16 - 09:02:47 ]
And now, here is Mark Stucky to answer your questions.
- 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.
- 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.
- 23 - 09:08:30 ]
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!
- 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).
- 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
- 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
- 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 :)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 47 - 09:24:43 ]
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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 59 - 09:31:55 ]
RE: [Robert] Do you ever have a fear
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.
- 60 - 09:32:44 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] How fast can the
It was designed for an operational mission speed of Mach 3 at 85,000 feet
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 70 - 09:40:43 ]
RE: [Ken] what is the farthest you have
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
- 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!
- 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
- 79 - 09:46:31 ]
RE: [CookesClass] Why is your nickname
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!
- 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).
- 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
- 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.
- 86 - 09:51:47 ]
RE: [CookesClass] What is your favorite
- 87 - 09:52:54 ]
RE: [Bob] Did hang gliders pique your
interest in flying? Also, what keeps a hang glider up, since there is
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 98 - 09:57:53 ]
RE: [CookesClass] What is your favorite
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
- 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!
- 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!
- 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
- 107 - 10:00:58 ]
RE: [CookesClass] Thank-you for chatting
with us, today:)
My pleasure, lots of great questions.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 133 - 10:13:18 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] Have you ever crashed?
No crashes, a hard landing maybe!
- 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.
- 135 - 10:13:51 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] what is your favriote
I really enjoy hang gliding, skiing, and climbing. My favorite spectator
sport is football.
- 140 - 10:25:35 ]
RE: [JohnandTimothy] will you ever chat
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!
- 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.