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Aerospace Team ONLINE

UPDATE #45 - December 18, 1998

PART 1: Upcoming Chats
PART 2: Project News
PART 3: Paying Homage
PART 4: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


We will take a break from Chats and Updates during the weeks of December
21st and 28th, 1998. We've got lots planned for January, 1999. Plan to
rejoin us then!!

Tuesday, January 5, 1999, 9 AM Pacific Standard Time: Donald Mendoza,
system safety engineer
Certain NASA activities can be very dangerous. Often times, scientists
and researchers are focused on the science of their projects and may
overlook the hazards or not know how to incorporate risk reduction into
their work. Donald's responsibility is to make sure that all NASA Ames
activities are safe.

Read Donald Mendoza's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration for this chat will begin on December 22.

Wednesday, January 13, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Standard Time: Kelly
McEntire, turbomachinery Branch Chief
Kelly is involved in jet engine engine research. She manages a group of
12 engineers that turn the ideas of the groups' lab rocket scientists,
also known as aeropropulsion researchers, into reality.
Read Kelly McEntire's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration for this chat will begin on December 30.

Wednesday, January 20, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Standard Time:
Ken Schrock, flight test project/instrumentation/telemetry,
data-communication engineer
Dallas/Fort Worth airport is now the busiest airport in the
world based, on the number of planes taking off and landing. For this,

NASA Ames has established a field site at the airport for
research and development of air traffic management.
Read Ken Schrock's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration for this chat will begin on January 6.

Tuesday, January 26, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Standard Time: Rabi
Mehta, senior research scientist
Rabi is interested in wind tunnel design and sports ball
aerodynamics. He has helped with the renovation of the Ames including the
12' wind tunnel renovation project. His interests have
encouraged him to study how baseballs, golf balls, and tennis balls fly,
and what affects them during flight. Currently, he is writing a
book called "The Aerodynamics of Cricket Ball," and is involved in
research in which special paints are used to measure pressures on the
surfaces of models.
Read Rabi Mehta's autobiography prior to joining this chat.
Registration for this chat will begin on January 12.

Tuesday, January 27, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Standard Time: Carolyn
Mercer, senior research scientist
Carolyn has been involved in research for improving fuel economy,
manufacturing processes, and microgravity science. Currently, she
manages a group of 13 researchers who are inventing new ways
to measure, with the use of optics. Her job is to make sure that the
researchers are working on the right things to satisfy NASA's needs, doing
a good job, and being rewarded for their work.
Read Carolyn Mercer's autobiography prior to joining this chat.



Create your own original poem about the Wright Flyer, the Wright brothers
or the Wind tunnel Test or more!

For more information go to:

For those teachers who have been searching for the Countdown to
Flight! novel, we have some good news to announce! Beginning in
mid-January, 1999, the novel will be reprinted and available for purchase.
Check here after the holidays for ordering information as we will post an
address and phone number as well as the price. Thanks for your patience,
and sorry for any inconvenience you've experienced in trying to purchase
the book.

The wind tunnel data lesson plans for the 1903 Wright Flyer Wind Tunnel
Test are being written up for the Internet.  Watch for news of these
lessons in future updates. Your class will be able to use the near
real time test data with these lesson plans!

[Editor's Note: Anne Corwin is an engineering aide. Read her bio at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/corwin.html ]


by Anne Corwin


This morning, when I went into the storage bay where the Wright Flyer
model is being kept while it awaits its turn in the tunnel, a co-worker
from my building was there, and he asked me if I was "paying homage".
"No," I answered, "I'm just measuring the diameter of this thing
(motioning at a cylindrical object protruding from the front of the sting
mount to which the craft will be affixed)." Turns out I was ignorant up
until this morning that December 17th (today) is the 95th anniversary of
the Wright Brothers' flight. That's pretty amazing...that human beings
could fly before my great-grandparents were even born. Who knows what
we'll be able to do fifty or even twenty years from now? Think about it:
it took humankind millions of years to get off the ground in the first
place, but it was only sixty-six short years after that that we were able
to leave the planet!

I've had this fixation on achieving the speed of light in a manned craft
since I was seven years old...I remember the year precisely because that
was the year I saw a movie called "Flight of the Navigator". It was about
a boy who was taken away at lightspeed for study on another planet. He was
gone, from his perspective, only 4.4 hours--while those on Earth
experienced eight years' passage of time. After I saw that movie, the idea
that the passage of time could somehow be related to how fast one was
moving kept me awake at night, and probably much to the delight of my
parents, prompted me to watch the Discovery Channel. Well, I've gotten way
off the subject of the Wright Flyer, but my point in that story was that
if it weren't for the Wright Brothers, who knows when humans would have
figured out how to build a working airplane? Would NASA even exist now?
Would people be making movies about the possibility of faster-than-light

Okay, back to Earth now. (I'll spare you further philosophical
musings...for now!) Anyway, I DID end up getting to watch/experience the
move of the Wright Flyer from one side of the Moffett/Ames base to the
other. I say "experience" because of the exciting manner in which I got to
become part of the procession. They ended up moving the Flyer earlier than
I'd thought they were going to, so by the time I got over to the hangar,
the plane was already in two separate pieces loaded and tied onto trucks.
(The trucks were moving, and they were steadily growing smaller in my
field of view.) I really wanted to see what was going on and watch the
rest of the move, so I ran toward the trucks. I saw my boss, Pete Zell,
and he motioned for me to go faster. Now, I am a near-obsessive bicyclist,
but I hate running with a passion. It seems so inefficient for the amount
of energy that must be expended, and I always seem to get a cramp in my
side. Nevertheless, I ran after the Flyer and its entourage of personnel
and eventually caught up and jumped like Indiana Jones onto a truck.
(Well, maybe not QUITE like Indiana Jones.)

Anyway, I spent the large part of the journey sitting on the edge of a
pulled-down cold metal backflap of a white pickup truck. Most of the space
in the back of the truck was being taken up by the canard structure to the
Flyer. (The main part of the craft--the part with the wings on it--was on
a larger truck in front of the one I was on.) I talked to a few of the
AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) members; they
turned out to be very cool guys. They seemed really enthusiastic about the
project, and quite pleased to be using the wind tunnel here at NASA.

When we reached the bay where the Flyer was to be stored, I got sort of
scared for a minute because of how they had to get the model off the
truck. The wingspan of the Flyer is about 40 feet--and this entire
structure was being lifted off a truck by a forklift that was about five
feet wide! I kept picturing the whole thing tipping to one side and
splintering with an ominous crash onto the hard smooth concrete floor. But
that didn't happen, of course, and I felt almost silly afterward because
of how easy the mechanics and AIAA guys made it look. They simply slipped
the flat prongs of the forklift under the model, hoisted it up, and then
the guy driving the truck drove forward. Then, two people took hold of the
wings and the forklift lowered the model gently but quickly onto the
ground. It all went very well from what I could see, and there was an
atmosphere of liveliness and even fun that seemed odd, if welcome,
at an industrial work site. Definitely an experience. Well, I think if
you've gotten this far you're probably exhausted by now, so goodbye until
my next entry!


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