Read all about it! AEDC newspaper reaches 70th year in circulation

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks
  • AEDC Public Affairs

A photo of test cells in the new Engine Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base spanned the entire width of the page.

Just below the picture was an accompanying article announcing that, after a decade of planning that included three years of brick-and-mortar construction, test work would begin in the ETF within the next month. Adjacent to the report was the portrait of a face familiar to those at Arnold – that of Leif Sverdrup, president of Arnold Research Organization which, at the time, managed what was then known as Arnold Engineering Development Center.

Alongside his photo was a brief missive Sverdrup wished to share with the workforce across AEDC.

“Welcome to the first issue of High Mach, an AEDC newspaper that will be an important link in maintaining teamwork here,” Sverdrup wrote. “We need teamwork to solve the complex problems before us. They’re too big for one man alone or separate groups to achieve. We’ve got to work on them with a fully informed, smooth-running team.

“We are pioneering toward a future filled with unprecedented challenges for us at AEDC. To meet these challenges as a unit, it is important that everyone here clearly understands and knows what’s going on and what our goals are.

“High Mach will serve us in providing that information.”

The objective of the High Mach to keep team members across Arnold up to speed on AEDC projects, programs and people has remained unchanged in the 70 years since.

In the days before the 24-hour news cycle and internet, including the advent of social media, the High Mach acted as a sort of community newsletter for AEDC, a way to keep those at Arnold informed about happenings on base and in the lives of teammates.

From the first issue published in April 1954 and particularly throughout its early years, much High Mach content focused on the expansion of AEDC at Arnold Air Force Base. President Harry Truman had visited the installation less than three years prior to dedicate the Air Engineering Development Center as the Arnold Engineering Development Center in honor of General of the Air Force Henry “Hap” Arnold.

Along with the status of the ETF referenced in the first issue, facility projects across the growing complex covered extensively in the early years of the High Mach included construction of an engine test cell throughout the early 1960s; a wind tunnel completed in the early 1960s, an aerospace research chamber completed in the mid-1960s, and propulsion engine and rocket test cells completed in the early 1960s.

In subsequent years, High Mach served as a source of updates on later construction projects during the first half of the 1970s and the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility finished and dedicated in the early 1980s. Also regularly provided in the pages of the High Mach were advancements in the early 1990s and 2010s.

The progression of technology at Arnold has also been documented in the base newspaper over the years, from the installation of monitors in the early 1950s to permit the observation of engines tested in a test cell and the acquisition of computing systems in the early 1960s and the early 1990s.

Over the years, the High Mach reported the gamut of testing conducted at AEDC for numerous systems and aircraft, from aerodynamic, store separation and engine testing to ballistic and strike impact testing performed with the famed “Chicken Gun.”

“Virtually every high technology flight system in use by the Department of Defense today has been tested at AEDC,” reads part of a special insert included with the June 22, 2000, edition of High Mach to kickoff the countdown to the 50th anniversary of AEDC. “Add to this all of NASA’s manned space programs and many satellites and space probes, plus some commercial aircraft, and the systems that AEDC has played a role in developing and deploying can readily be recognized by most Americans.”

High Mach covered work conducted on many of these systems, including testing to support the B-1 Lancer, B-52 Stratofortress, F-14 Tomcat, Minuteman missile, NAVSTAR Global Positioning Satellite and the Space Shuttle.

Work performed at AEDC played a part in putting man on the moon in July 1969, efforts that were covered in High Mach. During the years leading up to the Apollo 11 moon landing, thousands of hours of testing were conducted across multiple facilities at Arnold to ensure the success of the NASA Project Apollo program. The objective of this program was to accomplish a goal set by President John F. Kennedy in May 1961 – to land a man on the moon and return him to earth by the end of the decade.

The work performed at AEDC to support the Apollo program was summarized in the July 1969 issue of High Mach in an article titled “Thanks to AEDCers.”

“AEDCers are entitled to a great deal of satisfaction in knowing they are among those who contributed materially to the success not only of the Apollo 11 flight but the entire Apollo program,” the article reads in part.

Spreading the word about major moments and achievements in the lives of AEDC personnel was also a focus of the High Mach.

Although this level of detail on personnel is no longer shared, throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s, the AEDC newspaper served to keep team members in the loop on happenings concerning colleagues. Whenever a member of the AEDC team got engaged or married, went on vacation or welcomed a new addition to their family, their peers across Arnold could find out about it in the High Mach.

Early editions of the High Mach also included the results of the various sports leagues at AEDC so team members could see how colleagues fared against one another in basketball, golf, bowling and other contests. Fishermen and hunters at Arnold also used the High Mach to share photos of their latest catches and their trophies.

Those at AEDC were also alerted to upcoming events at the Arnold Lakeside Complex such as plays starring Arnold colleagues, installation talent shows and speaking engagements.

Since its inception, High Mach has provided coverage of each change of command at Arnold, providing readers with information on the commander selected to steer AEDC. High Mach has also documented visits to Arnold by other leaders within the Air Force, such as Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall’s tour of Arnold in October 2023.

The High Mach coverage area expanded beyond Arnold AFB in 1997 when AEDC assumed management of the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Maryland. Other geographically separated units, such as the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at Moffett Field, California, would subsequently come under the AEDC umbrella, and High Mach would extend its coverage to include projects and personnel at those units.

The size and shape of High Mach has also evolved throughout its 70-year history. The eight-page first issue was devoid of advertising and color and was smaller than a typical sheet of notebook paper. The format changed in 1959 when the paper size was increased to 8.5 inches by 11 inches. It was still printed in black and white. The High Mach editors wrote at the time that the new format would give them the “flexibility to give readers bigger and better coverage of the center by both copy and photos.”

Seven years later, the High Mach grew to 10.5 by 15 inches. In 1978, the paper was reduced to a size slightly smaller than the 1959-1966 format. High Mach remained this size for 14 years.

The High Mach logo has changed more than a dozen times throughout its history.

In April 1992, it was announced changes would be coming to the High Mach with the following month’s edition to represent a “more modern and professional image.” That May, the publication format was changed to resemble a tabloid-size commercial enterprise newspaper. In addition, for the first time in its history, High Mach would feature color photography, albeit initially on page one only. Eventually, color photography and images would become prevalent throughout the High Mach.

After 67 years as a printed publication, the High Mach changed to a digital format in January 2023. This digital version highlights articles recently published to the Arnold AFB website.