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2018 marks conceptual year for AEDC emblem

The current AEDC emblem is pictured. The emblem was designed in 1993 and officially approved the following year. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The current AEDC emblem is pictured. The emblem was designed in 1993 and officially approved the following year. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The original AEDC emblem is pictured. In 1994 unit designations were not placed on the scrolls of emblem paintings. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The original AEDC emblem is pictured. In 1994 unit designations were not placed on the scrolls of emblem paintings. (U.S. Air Force photo)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- The order had been delivered. The deadline was tight.

But members of Team AEDC pulled together to meet the challenge before them, and the result of their efforts continues to represent the organization a quarter of a century after its conceptualization.

This year marks 25 years since the current AEDC organizational emblem was designed and cleared the first hurdle to allow its usage on documents, brochures, posters and other materials.

According to an article published in the Nov. 17, 1993, edition of High Mach, then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak ordered that the AEDC emblem, as well as shields across the Air Force, be changed as part of an emblem “streamlining effort.”

“The chief of staff was looking to streamline all the Air Force emblems, to make them simpler,” then-AEDC historian David Hiebert said at the time.

The pressure was on for Hiebert and others at AEDC. The Air Force provided AEDC with only a 12-day suspense to prepare the new emblem and submit it to headquarters for review.

“If people ask why we didn’t have a contest for a new emblem, that’s why – we didn’t have the time,” Hiebert said in November 1993. “Normally we would have 150 days to do something like this.”

However, those who worked on the emblem were up to the task thanks to what Hiebert referred to as a “genuine Team AEDC effort.” The new shield was envisioned, drawn and sent to headquarters in time.

McPeak approved the revised emblem in early November 1993.

The revised emblem represented a modernized version of the original AEDC emblem approved in 1957. The use of two hues of blue on the original logo was scrapped in favor of a uniform shade of ultramarine. The red aircraft was updated to a more ambiguous wedge-shaped symbol. The lightning bolt passing through the missile and the wind tunnel grid effects found on the sphere in the original emblem were removed. Stars were added to the concentric rings.

The scroll along the bottom of the revised emblem read “Arnold Engineering Development Center,” which was how the unit was known at the time it was developed.

“In designing the new emblem, we wanted to keep the spirit of the old emblem while honoring General McPeak’s request,” Hiebert said.
Symbolism is tied to each component of the emblem still used by AEDC. Blue and yellow are the colors of the Air Force. The blue also alludes to the sky. The yellow sphere refers to the sun, and the yellow color itself represents the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The disc and concentric rings represent the wind tunnels found at AEDC. The scarlet flying body encased within a flight symbol represents an object and its “shock wave” when tested in a wind tunnel, as well as the testing and evaluation of other high-speed characteristics at AEDC. The stars represent space functions of AEDC.

Although McPeak approved the revised AEDC emblem in late 1993, its official approval would not come until around nine months later. Following McPeak’s approval, a unit had to submit a request to have a new emblem package prepared by The Institute of Heraldry and approved by the Air Force Historical Research Agency. Due to the number of units requesting updates, it took some time for the final packages to be returned to the units with approvals. The date the package was returned to a unit was the date a new emblem was officially approved.

The new AEDC emblem was officially approved on Aug. 5, 1994.

Since its official approval, the emblem has undergone one significant alteration. The word “Center” along the bottom scroll was changed to “Complex” after Arnold Engineering Development Center was re-designated as Arnold Engineering Development Complex in July 2012.