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Low Speed Wind Tunnel Tests

by Gavin Botha

January 19, 2000

I have been involved with several fixed wing aircraft tests, as well as helicopter tests. These include:

Fixed Wing:
F-18 High Angle of Attack Test, where we tested a Navy Blue Angles Aircraft at slow flight speeds with the nose of the aircraft flying at a very high attitude. We tested different types of devices mounted to the front of the aircraft to aid in controlling the fighter at these radical attitudes.

During the F-18 test we learned what type of devise provided the best control for the F-18 flying at these nose high angles. These designs, which were little wings that popped out of the sides of the nose, were built and tested on an actual F-18. Someday this may become standard equipment on certain aircraft.


Sikorsky Bearingless Main Rotor Test. This was a new design in helicopter blades, that used modern composite materials for the blade structure. These new materials allowed the helicopter blades to bend and twist to the proper control positions without using a bearing device that is normally needed for a standard rotor blade to rotate.

The Bearingless Main Rotor test proved that helicopter blades can be built without using bearings for blade rotation. This would save in manufacturing costs and is much easirt to maintain. Sikorsky Helicopter Company now has a production helicopter that uses bearingless main rotors.

Tilt Rotor Aeroacoustic Model. This is a 1/4 scale model of the V-22 Military Tilt Rotor Aircraft. The tilt rotor aircraft combines the best features of an aircraft and helicopter. A propeller on each wing can rotate forward, so that it becomes an airplane, and can then tilt backwards until both propellers are acting as helicopter rotors, and can hover like a helicopter.

We are still testing the 1/4 scale Tilt Rotor, but have already learned valuable information on the performance and noise characteristics of the propellers. We are trying to lower the noise produced from the blades so that the aircraft can take off and land from buildings without being too noisy.


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