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NASA Icing Tunnel Operator and NASA Glenn Research Center Pilot and the Center's Aviation Safety Officer, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

photo of kurt blankenship

Kurt Blankenship

What is your job title?

NASA Icing Research Tunnel Operator and NASA Glenn Research Center Pilot and the CenterÕs Aviation Safety Officer

Do you work for NASA or are you a contractor?

NASA Employee

What is your area of expertise?

Aircraft Icing

What is your education and training? (Degrees held, in what subjects, from what institutions?)

Bachelor of Science in Aerotechnology from Bowling Green State University - Airframe & Powerplant License, (from Aviation High School) - Pilots License; commercial, instrument, flight instructor, Airline Transport Pilot, and Type rated in Learjets. * Describe your career path? (What positions have you held, where and for how long) - 1981 Graduated from Aviation High School in Cleveland, Ohio - 1981 - 1985 United States Marine Corps, CH-53 Helicopter Crew Chief - 1985 Continental Air Lines, Mechanic - 1986 1990 Bowling State University, while attending school here I was also a flight instructor and Director of Maintenance for the schoolÕs flight department. - 1990 Š 1994 Corporate Pilot and Mechanic - 1994 Š Present NASA Glenn Research Center

What do you do? (What kinds of activities make up your work?)

At the Icing Research tunnel I operate the controls that make the tunnel run, bring heat to the model, make the icing cloud. For example, if a customer wants his wing model to simulate flying at 150 miles per hour, and he deices his model with heated air I would set the controls to give him that condition. I would also set the controls that would make a particular cloud he is interested in testing his model in. I would call some operators in a different building that are in charge of temperature to have them set the temperature the customer wants. After the all this is set up and we ice up the model my crewmembers and I must go out and clean the model off and get ready to do this all over again. In my capacity as pilot I fly the CenterÕs two aircraft for research. One is used for icing research and the other is used for a couple of other programs like solar cell research.

What kinds of skills are important to have for this position?

A willingness to get cold. Before I became a qualified tunnel operator I first needed to become familiar with all the systems of the tunnel.

How did you first become interested in this profession?

As a child I lived near the airport and became interested in aircraft after watching them fly overhead. When an opportunity to attend Aviation High School became available, I jumped at the chance.

What helped prepare you for this job?

The opportunity to attend Aviation High School has made a difference in my life. It was there that I obtained a license to work on aircraft, which has always provided me with income and opportunities. It was there that I first started flying at the age of seventeen. This early involvement not only prepared me for a future in aviation it also gave me an advantage over others who at the same age where not as far trained in the field.

Who were your role models or inspirations?

While attending Aviation High School I became inspired by many of the teachers there while hearing of their careers in aviation.


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