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UPDATE #21 - May 1, 1998

PART 1: Upcoming Chat
PART 2: Contest Winners Announced!
PART 3: Learning from a Survivor
PART 4: Preparing for a Fighter Plane Sim
PART 5: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


Monday May 4, 1998 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
George Kidwell, Deputy Director of R & D Services for Operations,

George is responsible for directing the wind tunnel operations
at Ames Research Center. There are three major national wind tunnel
complexes at Ames, and each involves many skilled people, very large
amounts of electrical power, a lot of high pressure and high
speed air, and the need to run as quickly as possible while still
maintaining safety and data accuracy.

Registration information is at
Read his biography prior to joining this chat.

Monday, May 11, 1998, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. PDT
Steve Smith, Aerospace Research Engineer

Steve does aerodynamic performance prediction and design of
subsonic transports. He spends about one third of this time doing
experimental research in wind tunnels, and about two thirds of
the time in computational research.

Registration information is at
Read his biography prior to joining this chat.

Mark May 19 and May 20 on your calendars!!
NASA's Quest Project will be sponsoring two FULL days of
QuestChats with experts from all of our projects!!
Teachers who want to chat for three classes now have the
chance.  This special opportunity is offered in observance of


This is the moment many children have been waiting for, if my
mailbox is any measure of the urgent need to know of some young

But first, let me keep you in suspense for one more minute, I'd like
to take this opportunity to thank the distinguished panel of judges
for this contest. Their input was thoughtful, encouraging, and timely.
A great deal of thanks to Liza Alderete, Education Technology and
Multimedia Manager, Ames Research Center; Coleen Kaiser, Multimedia
Designer, Boeing Information Systems, NASA Headquarters; Jeffrey Samuels,
Aerospace Engineer, Ames Research Center; and Christopher Sweeney, Flight
Simulation Engineer, Logicon Syre, Ames Research Center.
We have added their feedback to each contest submission. I urge you to
take a minute to look at their excellent comments. See

And now let me thank all of the children for their efforts and the parents
and teachers who help to get these entries to Ames. We have decided to
send NASA Party packs to all entrants.  Early bird prizes will go to those
entries received prior to March 30.

Special category winners in the Design a Picture of an Airplane Contest
for Grades K-2 include: Samuel T. Wood, Best Artistic Drawing of an
Airplane; Kayla Twomey, Best Plan-View Drawing of an Airplane; Justin
Harrison, Best  Drawing of a Military Airplane; Justin Harrison, Best
Drawing of a Military Airplane; Amy Nelson, Fastest Airplane Design;
Mellisa Perman, Best Use of Weather Effects; Katerina Hadley, Best
All-Weather Airplane; Peter Daelson, Best Fighter Jet design; Seth
Thorson, Best use of Perspective; Stephanie V, Best drawing of a
commercial passenger airplane; and Tony P, Best drawing of a conceptual

Special category winners in the Design a Picture of an Airplane Contest
for Grades 3-5 include: Siddharth Bhaskar, Best attention to detail; and
Morgan Carlisle, Best Technical Illustration.

Special category winners in the Write About the Airplane You Would Like to
Design Essay Contest for Grades 6-8 include: Rodrigo Gomez-Ruis, Reynaldo
Hellmund, Juan Andres Cisneros, Best Brainstorming New Ideas Award; James
Mark Wood, Best Application of Aeronautical Concepts; Jake Edmunds, Most
Realistic Design; Enrique Del Real, Javier Galdo, Juan Miguel Temes, Best
Combination of Ideas Award; and Marien Di Marco, Kristhel Rubio, Adriana
Gomez-Ruiz, Most Creative Design Award.

Special category winners in the Write About the Airplane You Would Like to
Design Essay Contest for Grades 9-12 include: Stephanie Wong, Best
Application of Aeronautical Concepts Award; and Bruce Carlisle, Best
Brainstorming and Combining Ideas Award.

Congratulations to all!!!

[Editor's Note: Ray Oyung is the Research Coordinator for the Fatigue Countermeasures Program. He is studying the effect of sleep loss on pilots. Read his bio at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/ray.html ]


by Ray Oyung

February 13, 1998

This Wednesday and Thursday, our program sponsored an Education Training
Module Workshop to teach regulatory officials, training managers, medical
officers, and safety officers in the aviation and transportation industry.
The workshop is about sleep physiology, personnel scheduling strategies,
and preventive and operational countermeasures to assist these
representatives in making their work environment safer.

The background of these representatives include commercial and corporate
airline pilots, locomotive engineers, marine pilots, aviators and doctors
from each of the military branches including Coast Guard, and even folks
from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA)!

Each workshop brings in people from many diverse backgrounds and
industries. This workshop included medical personnel from the Air Force
Academy, policy makers from Transport Canada (equivalent to the Federal
Aviation Administration in the United States), a flight surgeon from the
Navy's Top Gun division, safety officers from various corporate and
commercial airlines, and two agents from the FBI. This workshop is
particularly unique because we have a special guest with us.

One of the topics we cover during the day is a briefing on the first
airplane accident where fatigue was considered to play a major role. The
accident occurred in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba several hundred miles off the
coast of Florida. The pilots were flying an overnight cargo operation
through the night. After landing at their final destination, they were
called back to fly some mail to Cuba that afternoon. The pilots were awake
for an average of 20.5 hours before the accident. It was a mail
flight on a DC-8 cargo plane. The people on board consisted of the
captain, first officer, and flight engineer. Their skills totaled almost
40,000 hours of flight experience. This is a lot of flight time and the
accident did not happen because the pilots were bad pilots. When the
pilots approached the airport at Cuba, several factors took place leading
up to the accident. There is never one thing that causes an accident.
Think of many slices of swiss cheese. There are holes in each slice, but
no slice has the holes in exactly the same place. If you pick a hole in
each slice of cheese and line them up so you can see through all the
slices, this is how accidents occur.

Our special guest today is the first officer from that flight to
Guantanamo Bay. He has healed since the accident which occurred about five
years ago and has been certified to fly again. He does have a waiver
allowing him to fly with a prosthetic leg. In addition to a broken arm,
his right leg was lost due to the accident.

The first officer elaborated on the events described in the National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on the accident. The NTSB is an
independent agency that is tasked with investigating transportation
accidents and providing recommendations to avoid these types of accidents
in the future.

Our program provided some advice for analyzing fatigue factors in accident
investigation. These factors include: the amount of sleep loss prior to
the incident/accident; the number of hours awake; the time of day; known
sleep disorders. These factors tagged onto the fact that the air traffic
controller that day was a trainee, and that an important ground reference
beacon was inoperative led to the accident.

In addition to hearing about the accident first hand, it was an invaluable
experience to allow us to think about aspects of the flight and learn from
the mistakes. Fortunately, no one died in order for the rest of us to gain
important information. The discussion also gave us a chance to reflect on
our own operations. Whether that's flying an airplane, healing people who
are sick, navigating a boat, or driving a car, this exercise helps each
one of us stop and think about how fragile we each are and that we can get
hurt (in addition to potentially hurting others) if we're not careful.

By the end of the second day, each of the participants had plenty of
material to bring back to their organization. They were able to take with
them the knowledge of how important sleep is to safely operate in any
environment. With this knowledge, they can make educated decisions that
apply directly with crew scheduling, policy making, or other pertinent
aspects of running their particular operation.

[Editor's Note: Leslie Ringo is a Flight Simulation Engineer. She is one of the engineers responsible for ensuring this simulator responds exactly as a real aircraft would in the air. Some of the simulations she has worked on include the Comanche helicopter, Space Shuttle, and future versions of fighter jet aircraft. Read her bio at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/ringo.html ]


by Leslie Ringo

April 27, 1998

I have been working on a simulation of a fighter plane.  Every morning
when I get into work I get in the cab to check out the simulation. I make
sure that cab is set up and ready for the researchers and pilots to get in
there to do their tasks & research.  The best way to check the cab is to
first set up and then fly the simulation.  For the fighter aircraft, we
uses a visual scene of a naval air station.

In setting up for a simulation, we first must prepare all the initial
conditions of the pilot tasks.  The typical phrase used when talking about
an initial condition is called "IC".  When setting up an IC position, the
first run might be on a runway just about to take off and the second run
will start in the air as a landing approach towards the runway.  To
actually fly the simulation, we change our simulation mode from "IC" to
"operate."  In IC, the aircraft will not move.  In "operate", the fun
begins since you actually have control over the fighter aircraft.

In operate mode, I check out the cab to verify everything is working
correctly as it would in the real aircraft.  All the levers and buttons
are checked.  This is the first step in a cab check out.  The second step
is to actually just fly around and get a "feel" to if it is responding
correctly.  Some larger aircrafts like a transport or the Space Shuttle
may have a slow response.  For a fighter plane, you would check out if you
get the "fast" response.

I also try to land the plane and make sure that its actually landing on
the runway not going through it. I make sure that the visual scene matchs
up to what it would look like when you are on the ground.  Sometimes, I
have seen simulations where it looks like you landed in mid air. I make
sure you actually get a landing gear sound out of the sound system. Then I
practice takeoff, I know what air speed the aircraft will take off at and
I know the certain procedures, the certain switches and buttons that push
to take off.  I go through the entire procedure and I make sure that I
take off at the right speed and that things work the way they should. I
follow a check list like flaps down, flaps up. I push the throttle all the
way forward and hold on.

Currently, I have a problem when I try to land on a ship.  Every time I
aim for the deck, I keep sinking until I land on the water.  After making
sure I actually had the gear down, I then started consulting the engineer
who provided this code.  In this simulation, we have a new landing gear

This is a very very maneuverable sim. If you want to go off to the left
you have no problem you can go as fast as you want.  And since this is a
fighter aircraft, no check out would be complete without a couple of
barrel rolls!

When I fly, the simulation is fixed base and there is no motion. The pilot
engineers are the people who fly with motion. The pilot engineers check
the sim to see if it feels like a real aircraft. You are more likely to
get airsick in a fixed based sim.  During a motion sim, the little bones
in your ears move and send neurological information to your brain to reset
your equilibrium. So in a motion sim, what your eyes see and your body
feels, they match up so you are less likely to get motion sickness.  But
in a fixed base sim what your body feels and what your eyes are seeing are
in conflict.

Next week we will have the researcher in the lab.  He will get in the cab
and fly all his tasks and test all his different modes and make sure that
the sim works the way he want before we start taking data.  I need to
understand his model in order to program it. If he changes his
requirements when he comes out next week I will have to make changes to
the code for the simulation.  So far the model is working very well so I
am not expecting to have to make a great number of changes.


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