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UPDATE #53 - February 26, 1999

PART 1: Upcoming Chats
PART 2: Project News
PART 3: Perfect Light - the Lift In
PART 4: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


QuestChats require pre-registration. Unless otherwise noted, registration
is at:  

Thursday, March 4, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Time: Marilyn Ramsey, graphic

Marilyn assists Wright Flyer team members in tasks like sewing
the fabric and fabricating wires on the airplane. She has assisted with
preparing the Wright Flyer for wind tunnel testing, and has also acted as
photographer to document team events for history files. She has also used
her computer skills to support the team members.

Read Marilyn Ramsey's profile prior to joining this chat.

Wednesday, March 10, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Time: Steve Bauman, mechanical

Currently, Steve is trying to figure out how to prevent models
mounted in the 8x6 wind tunnel at John Glenn Research Center (formerly
Lewis Research Center) from bouncing around during a test. He is also
helping to design and build a new facility that will  test jet engine
combustors, which is a part where fuel is squirted in and ignited.

Read Steve Bauman's profile prior to joining this chat.


Thursday, March 11, 1999, 10 AM Pacific Time: Fred Culick, project

Fred Culick teaches aerodynamics at CalTech and has assisted
with testing of the Wright Flyer. He has tested an 8 percent scale model
of the Wright Flyer in a wind tunnel at CalTech.

Read Fred Culick's profile prior to joining this chat.


AIAA 1903 Wright Flyer Wind Tunnel Test at the National Full-scale
Aeronautics Complex at NASA Ames Research Center begins March 1, 1999
Read the daily log from Test Manager Pete
Zell. http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/news/testlog.html
See beautiful daily photos taken by Liza Coe at

- - - - - - -

February Recyclable Model Contest
Send in entries by email or postal mail marked no later that 2/28/99.
Design your model of the 1903 Wright Flyer out of recycled materials. Be
creative and earth friendly!!

For details go to

- - - - - - -

Teacher Forum on Wind Tunnel Data Lessons

We have set up a forum for teachers with questions about the
Wind Tunnel Data Lessons, http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/teachers/.
This is similar to a bulletin board. You can post questions and
we'll get back to you by posting the answers. Check this link at:

- - - - - - -

[Editor's Note: Anne Corwin is an engineering aide and engineering student working in the National Full-Scale Aeronautics Complex. Read her profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/corwin.html ]


by Anne Corwin

February 24, 1999

When I raced into the High Bay of the 40x80 foot wind
tunnel on Friday, breathless after having charged all the
way here on my bike after my math class, the Wright
Flyer, looking tiny and delicate, was suspended
innumerable feet above my head. I had missed the vertical
"lifting", but was able to witness the actual installation of
the replica into the tunnel, which was without a doubt the
most fascinating thing I have ever seen while working at
NASA. It was frightening in an exhilarating sort of way;
I hoped I'd calculated the center of gravity right! (If I
hadn't, the Flyer would have pitched forward or
backward on the lifting apparatus, and quite likely would
have been damaged.) I know my figures were checked,
but it was still rather scary.

Slowly, slowly, the mechanics and other test personnel
guided the fragile aircraft so that it hung directly over the
yawning gap between the two open tunnel doors. At this
point, some of the AIAA crew motioned for me to follow
them. We climbed the stairs to the tunnel test section. I
stood next to the sloping walls of the tunnel, just inside
the entryway, watching. There were already quite a few
people up there, some with cameras, some with notepads,
and some simply watching. The Flyer gently made its way
down toward the sting support where it was to be
mounted. One thing that amazed me was the almost
automated cooperation that established itself between
those performing the lift-in. There were no fancy
computers controlling the mechanisms; the precision and
magnitude of each movement was determined by human
beings. The Flyer was moved into position directly over
the end of the sting support, where the bottom of it was
bolted on. I cannot even begin to estimate the time it took
for the installation to be completed; it seemed that the
entire episode was independent of time. What had to be
done had to be done; the events would unfold at their own

The previous day (Thursday) rain had been rushing out
of the sky in heavy violent sheets; but while the Flyer was
being installed (and for a short time afterward) there was
a perfect glow of sunlight streaming in through every
window. Everyone I talked to remarked on the
dramatically perfect lighting; it made the scene seem as if
it were meant to be. When the Flyer was securely
installed, I moved from my observation point in the
tunnel doorway to the actual "body" of the tunnel, so that
I was directly facing the plane. It looked as if it were
defying gravity, perched there in the cathedral stillness.
Its translucent wings absorbed the light, like the wings of
a dragonfly.

There is something to be said about being inside a wind
tunnel; it is definitely not like being inside of any other
structure. There is something cathedral-like about the
place, probably owing to the high arching walls. But at
the same time, there is an earthy, warehouse feel, like a
comfortable garage. I had never been in the tunnel for so
long before, nor had I ever seen so many people at once
milling around in the test section. It was great to talk to
all the people; I spoke with NASA colleagues, the AIAA
Wright Flyer crew, and their spouses. Everyone was very
approachable and since I love to talk, that was a good

At about 1 PM, I left the test section because I realized I
was hungry. I had been there since about 10:15 AM, but
it seemed like no time at all. It was a really nice
atmosphere all day; everyone was smiling and talking
about how well the lift went, and we all moved on to
other things, such as coming up with the run schedule for
the test. It almost seems like a letdown, now that the lift is
over; I guess we still have the whole test ahead of us, but
the lift-in is sure to be recollected as one of the dramatic
highlights of the entire project.


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