Engineer marks career at AEDC with dynamic stability

Release Number: 208107

Even though Hugh DuBose has been retired from AEDC almost as many years as he worked here, his years of contributions to the Propulsion Wind Tunnel's 16-foot supersonic and transonic wind tunnels are still lingering.

Born in Mississippi and raised in Pensacola, Fla., DuBose remembers as a college student working outside while the training fighter planes buzzing overhead would catch his immediate attention. He knew then, he wanted to be a pilot.

After his sophomore year at University of Florida, World War II was in full swing so DuBose felt the time was right to enter into pilot training with the Army Air Force. His first assignment as a new pilot was instructing flying in Mississippi in the Vultee BT-13. Next came transition as a P-51 pilot followed by tactical missions from Okinawa. After duty in Osaka during the occupation of Japan, DuBose reentered college where he earned a bachelor's in physics.

In 1948, he took the opportunity to work with an organization known then as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at Langley Field, Va. This organization, now known as NASA, is one of the frontiers in space exploration.

At Langley, DuBose was an aeronautical research scientist who studied theoretical aerodynamics related to subsonic airplane performance and transonic wind tunnel testing. There, he calculated design shape for a supersonic nozzle in their Freon wind tunnel. He also performed aircraft flutter analysis and wind tunnel testing.

During this time, he also attended physics graduate studies at the University of Virginia.

In 1953, DuBose and his wife, Mertice, moved to Tullahoma where he would work at a place that was in the process of building its wind tunnels.

"I first heard about AEDC when I was working with NACA," he said.

Bruce Estabrooks was a neighbor across the street from DuBose and Estabrooks' cousin, George Pope, who was head of design in PWT, held a meeting about AEDC.

"I and a few others went to AEDC and were interviewed for jobs," he recollected. "I interviewed with Dr. Bernhard Goethert (AEDC Fellow)."

DuBose was initially hired as a dynamic stability expert, but also helped calculate contours for supersonic nozzles in 16T and 16S.

"I calculated the shape of what the nozzles should be to generate various Mach numbers," he explained.

They used the one-foot model wind tunnel, also known as Pee wee, as a guide for developing the walls in the 16T and 16S wind tunnels.

The theory DuBose worked on was how to get the proper porosity and the right angle of the holes in the walls.

"First, I worked on the design of the walls for 16T," he remembered. "The 60-degree inclined holes in the 16T walls, that you see today were worked out in 1T."

Moving on in his career, DuBose found himself back with dynamic stability when he became the supervisor of that section in the transonic branch of PWT.

According to DuBose, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) testing was the force behind dynamic stability work at AEDC. Tests were run in 16T and 1T.

"What eventually ended up in 16T was a conceptual model of an ICBM where we measured the force required to keep the ICBM oscillating," he explained. "Evidently, instability had been experienced with the ICBM on reentry when it entered the atmosphere and slowed down to subsonic speed."

In 1983, DuBose and his wife retired to a life of travel, square dancing and spending the past 20 winters in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. They have traveled to every state except Hawaii, in which they could not get to by a motor home. The couple, who have been married for 66 years, have three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

At the end of the interview, DuBose's wife admitted she had no idea her husband did all that at AEDC. During the construction period of AEDC, much work on the facilities was classified.