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Family and friends of AEDC Flight CTF visit Arnold

Mike Mills, Arnold Engineering Development Complex Fellow and wind tunnel subject matter expert, speaks to the friends and family of Propulsion Wind Tunnel team members at Arnold Air Force Base Nov. 2 during the Flight Combined Test Force Open House. Mills provided information on how the PWT facility operates and answered several questions. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Mike Mills, Arnold Engineering Development Complex Fellow and wind tunnel subject matter expert, speaks to the friends and family of Propulsion Wind Tunnel team members at Arnold Air Force Base Nov. 2 during the Flight Combined Test Force Open House. Mills provided information on how the PWT facility operates and answered several questions. (U.S. Air Force photo)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --

During an open house on Nov. 2, friends and families of Arnold Air Force Base were granted an opportunity to get an inside look at the AEDC Flight Systems Combined Test Force.

Approximately 120 people took part in the open house, during which attendees were led on guided tours around the facilities making up the CTF, including the Propulsion Wind Tunnel (PWT) and the von Kármán Gas Dynamics Facility (VKF).

Lt. Col. John McShane, who assumed directorship of the Flight Systems CTF in July, wanted to showcase the mission and capabilities of the CTF and thank family members for their contribution to national defense. 

In his opening remarks to the crowd gathered to get a look at the facilities, McShane stated that the test and evaluation conducted by the CTF is used to assess the performance of critical weapon systems for the country and that the most important elements of the CTF are not the facilities, but the people who enable their success.

Three tour groups were led by Mike Mills, Nathan Payne, and Capt. Johnathan Gutierrez. Each group visited the Model Installation Building, PWT 16-foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel VKF. In the MIB, friends and family members were able to see how the systems under test are instrumented and installed in the test section before being moved to 16S or 16-foot Transonic Wind Tunnel for evaluation.

The 16S tunnel is used to test large models from Mach 1.5-4.75. Tunnel 16S is currently being modernized to support the test and evaluation of essential weapon systems for the warfighter.

In VKF, the tours observed the hypersonic wind tunnels that are required for the development of our next generation of high speed weapons. These three areas gave CTF friends and family members a glimpse of the broad capabilities of the CTF and AEDC.

“I received a lot of positive feedback,” said McShane. “Many people expressed how excited they were to finally see where their family member worked, they were impressed by the vast size of the test facilities and the CTF team’s ability to operate them around the clock. I owe the event’s success to the folks who volunteered to make this all come together. We have a great team.”

The Flight Systems CTF at AEDC offers aerodynamic ground-test capabilities from very low subsonic speeds through Mach number 10 in various wind tunnels. These tunnels provide essential test and analysis services in support of DOD, national, U.S. industry and international space programs. AEDC currently operates five active wind tunnels at Arnold AFB within PWT and VKF. Facility operators are will bring back the 16S wind tunnel in early 2020. 

AEDC wind tunnels are used for research, development, testing and evaluation in areas including vehicle aerodynamic performance, weapons integration, inlet and airframe integration, exhaust jet effects and reaction control systems, code validation, proof-of-concept, large- and full-scale component research and development, system integration, acoustics, thermal protection system evaluation, hypersonic flow physics, space launch vehicles, operational propulsion systems and captive flight.