Meet: Gavin Botha
Who I Am
I then supervise the testing and experimentation part of the program. Six huge wind tunnel fans are used to blow air over the model and simulate actual flying conditions.
Hundreds of instruments on the models record all kinds of information, which we use to learn more about the aerodynamics and flight qualities of each model. We test all types of aircraft and helicopters, and have even tested parachutes, jet engines, and a real semi tractor trailer rig. The information we learn form the wind tunnel tests is used to design better, safer, more efficient vehicles that we all enjoy. Some of the more exciting tests include a Navy Blue Angels F-18 Fighter aircraft, and a model of the Space Shuttle
My Career Path
Since I enjoy experimenting, and get pleasure from designing, creating, and working with actual aircraft, I decided that wind tunnel testing would be an excellent career. During my college days I spent a lot of time in the college wind tunnels, testing and learning various skills that would help me find a job as a Test Manager.
What I Like About My Job
I enjoy leading a team of people towards a common goal, and it is very satisfying when you succeed in meeting those goals. The job can however become stressful and tiring when things are not going well. It is important for a Test Manager to keep to a rigid schedule, which often means working long hours to catch up when things don't go as planned. Working long hours and late shifts happen occasionally, even though we try our best to prevent that from happening.
As a child
The Aerospace industry offers lots of variations on jobs, including jet engine engineers, rocket engineers, spacecraft engineers, as well as test engineers, aircraft design engineers, and research engineers who study all of the experimental data, and transfer it into useable knowledge. If any of these jobs interest you then try and get involved somehow and see if your interest grows.
Personal After 20 years of flying radio controlled models, I still am actively involved with designing, building, and flying radio controlled gliders. I enjoy the challenge of trying to keep the glider in the air as long as possible without an engine. Recently I have introduced my 8 year old son to glider flying, which he really enjoys, and is already quite good. My competitive nature has followed through even in glider flying. I compete in a specific type of glider contest that involves duration flying, distance flying, and speed flying. Each year I compete to become a member on the US glider team, and hope someday I will be good enough to make the team and represent the US in international competition.