UPDATE #52 - February 19, 1999
QuestChats require pre-registration. Unless otherwise noted, registration is at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats Tuesday, February 23, 1999, 11 AM Pacific Time: Pete Zell, facility manager, NFAC Pete is the facility manager for the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC). He is responsible for making sure that a customer's requirements are being met for testing activities, and monitoring the day to day operations of the facility. Additionally, he manages a staff of people who work on test operations and the facility engineering tasks required for testing. His staff also tests instrumentation, software, and data acquisition systems. Read Pete Zell's profile prior to joining this chat. http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/zell.html Wednesday, February 24, 1999, 10:30 AM Pacific Time: Orville & Wilbur Wright, Inventors of the first powered airplane Yes, you read it right... The Wright Brothers had so much fun chatting with you last December, that they're ready to answer your challenging questions once again! Two aeronautics experts will act the roles of Orville and Wilbur Wright for this special chat. Just how well Orville & Wilbur answer your questions will be based on the questions you ask them! Read Orville & Wilbur Wright background information prior to joining this chat. http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/background/ Thursday, February 25, 1999, 10:30 AM Pacific Standard Time: Paul Langston, television production specialist Paul is responsible for developing concepts for NASA television shows that he and his team produce for NASA. He is also responsible for making video tapes which tell stories about certain NASA concepts, or developing footage for the news about some research NASA is doing. With his video editing skills and sophisticated equipment, Paul is able to create broadcast quality tapes about NASA. Read Paul Langston's profile prior to joining this chat. http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/langston.html
February Recyclable Model Contest
Hate to waste? Put your recyclables to good use! Design your model of the 1903 Wright Flyer out of recycled materials. Be creative and earth friendly!! For details go to http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/events/contest/recyclable.html - - - - - - - Teacher Forum on Wind Tunnel Data Lessons We are planning to set up a forum for teachers with questions about the Wind Tunnel Data Lessons, http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/teachers/. This would be similar to a bulletin board. You can post questions and we'll get back to you by posting the answers.Check for this link next week. - - - - - - - 1903 Wright Flyer Model Status Lift In was successful! Last Friday the AIAA and NASA Staff ran an test of the engine on 1903 Wright Flyer Model. They ran the engine up to 1800 rpms, and everything went well. The sting was mounted in the wind tunnel. The 1903 Wright Flyer Model was lifted into the 40x80 wind tunnel at 10:00 a.m. on Friday November 19, 1999 and mounted on the sting.
[Editor's Note: Fred Culick is a Professor of Jet Propulsion at California Institute of Technology, and an aerodynamicist for the AIAA WrightFlyer Project. Read his biography at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/culick.html ]
WHY DO WE TEST MODELS IN A WIND TUNNEL?
by Fred Culick
February 11, 1999 Before we fly a type of airplane that nobody has flown before we want to know as much as possible about how it will fly. We want to know many things. How it will move when we move the controls? How will it act when it is struck by strong gusts of wind? How fast will it go? And--most importantly--will it be safe to fly? When the Wright Brothers invented their airplane, there were no books they could read to learn how to build a good airplane--not even a BAD airplane! There was little previous knowledge, they had to experiment and learn how to make things work. They taught themselves how to fly. They really didn't know whether their airplane was bad, pretty good, or very good--they knew it worked, better than anybody else's, and they proved that by flying demonstrations. And other people bought it! It was a great invention, the first really big invention of the twentieth century. It began all flying everywhere. It led to airlines, to warplanes, airplanes that you and I can fly, and eventually to the Space Shuttle. What a marvelous achievement! It's a hugely important part of our history, not just of science, engineering and technology, but of our society, how we travel, take holidays, meet people, work...the invention of the airplane changed the lives of people in ways bigger than any other invention until computers and the Internet! So it is very important, as part of our heritage, to understand what the Wright Brothers did, how they did it (lots of perseverance, hard work and clever ideas!), and finally how their airplane worked. That's what we have been doing in the AIAA Wright 'Flyer' Project. We learned all about the Wright Brothers' work, we know how to build a copy of their airplane, and now with the tests in NASA's wind tunnel at the Ames Research Center we are going to learn exactly how good (or bad!) the airplane was. The results of these tests will give us the answers to the questions I asked above--and many more. All airplane companies do wind tunnel tests of their new airplanes for exactly the same reasons. They can learn, before they actually risk flying the airplane, whether it will fly the way they want it to. And there's another interesting and important thing we can do. Using the information we get from wind tunnel tests, we can build simulators that pilots can sit in and learn how to fly the airplane before they actually fly it. A simulator is really a big (and very expensive!) video game with all the controls of the actual airplane and a screen that shows exactly what you would see if you were sitting in the cockpit and actually flying. So after our wind tunnel tests, we will know how the Wright 1903 'Flyer' flies--everything there is to know about it. But what about that model I built and tested at Caltech? Didn't we learn a lot from those test results? Yes--almost everything we need to know. And we learned a lot also from the 1/8 scale model I mentioned. However, besides the important historical reasons for testing our full-size airplane, there are technical reasons for our tests in March. I'll mention two. First, the 'Flyer' has two large propellers that produce their own wind. That wind blows over the vertical rear tail and affects the way the airplane flies. Also, ahead of the propellers, two streams of wind blow over the wing before going through the propellers. Those streams also affect the way the airplane flies. We don't know anything about those effects. My 1/6 scale model had two propellers and an electric motor but, although everything worked perfectly, I didn't have enough time to do tests. So this is something we must learn in March and that is why the first series of tests will be done with the propellers turned by a very powerful electric motor. Second, the 'Flyer' has wings that are twisted or warped by the pilot to control the wing tips up or down, to 'bank' the airplane and make it turn. That method of control was invented by the Wrights. Now airplanes have 'ailerons,' a French word meaning small wings. To build our flying version we need to know better how the wing warping works to affect the flight of the airplane, especially with the propellers turning at full speed. We learned some of that from the tests of my 1/6 scale model, but we want to learn if the full-size airplane behaves in exactly the same way. The Wright Brothers' 'Flyer' was a very difficult and dangerous airplane to fly. Wilbur and Orville were successful partly because they had a lot of practice with gliders that were similar to their 1903 'Flyer.' You can think of their gliders almost as their kind of simulator! But we won't have lots of practice and we don't want to fly an unsafe airplane. We want to know what small changes we can make so it will be safer to fly. I believe that you won't be able to notice the modifications we make in our flying version of the 'Flyer' (unless you look very carefully!).
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