Wade Stevenson to be honored as an AEDC Fellow

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Two new Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) Fellows will be inducted June 25 at the annual Fellows banquet.

One of the the new Fellows is Wade Stevenson. Stevenson joins 56 others selected for this honor since the program began in 1989.

Nominated by his peers, Stevenson has been cited for his outstanding leadership and technical excellence in support to and advancement of the center's mission.

Wade Stevenson

Wade Stevenson was recognized for his outstanding service to AEDC by advancing the state-of-the-art of rocket and jet engine testing and inaugurating superior evaluation support to national programs.

The earliest years of Stevenson's 40-year career were devoted to testing of solid propellant rocket motors in test cell T-3 in support of DoD, NASA and commercial space programs of that era.

He served as project team member and/or project manager responsible for testing more than 50 rocket motors including 11 JPL Apogee motors for the Advanced Technology Satellite, a COMSAT INTELSAT IT communication spacecraft motor, and several upper stage motors for the Delta Launch Vehicle.

AEDC's T-3 Cell was a pioneer U.S. facility having the capability to duplicate the in-flight spin of the rocket motor while measuring thrust and other performance parameters.

During these early years, Stevenson, noting that spinning rocket motors gave two side components of thrust in addition to the normal axial component, developed software to resolve these components into traverse and tumbling components in addition to the desired axial component.

This analysis assisted both the system manufacturers and program managers in determining the impulse required for trajectory corrections in flight by guidance thrusters, thereby possibly avoiding flight failures.

He was also an early contributor to the center's initiative to move into the Analysis and Evaluation (A&E) arena. In one of the first propulsion area A&E projects, he conducted a study to determine the absolute accuracy of rocket ballistic performance data obtained during AEDC testing at simulated pressure altitudes of 100,000 feet relative to rocket performance during actual flights.

The results of this 1968 effort established the very small statistical variation between test cell and in-flight performance for all seven systems analyzed. His results not only enhanced confidence in AEDC test data but also became a catalyst for growing the propulsion A&E area.

After significant contributions in the solid rocket test and leadership roles in developing ground test capabilities, Stevenson joined the 1970-1980's turbine engine test surge consisting of responsibilities in the YJ97-GE-3 and F100 engine test program.

At the initiation of the F-15 engine competition, he was responsible for the successful integration of the engine manufacturer's analysis software into AEDC data programs.

During the 1970's the TF30 engine installed in the F-111 aircraft was experiencing compressor and/or fan stalls routinely in-flight and on the ramp and runway.

Concerned with the impact of stalls on the operational capability and readiness of the F-111, the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) provided two engines and some $8 million in resources to enable AEDC and the Air Force Propulsion Lab to determine the root cause of this problem and develop ways to simulate it in ground test facilities. Inlet flow distortion was the suspected culprit.

Several distortion generator systems were developed and validated including screens, rotor/stator units and air jets.

Stevenson was intimately involved in the initial concept design, prototyping and full-scale development of the air jet distortion generator.

The use of this validated new inlet distortion technology helped the F-111 achieve the required operational capability and readiness. This innovative breakthrough in distortion test and evaluation changed the industry and government approach for evaluating military aircraft engines.

This test technology was subsequently adapted as a standard for testing and qualifying other engines beginning with the GE F101-GE-100 engine for the B-1. It was further expanded into ASTF by the F-15 test team in 1989.

As supervisor of the T-l Projects Section, Stevenson directed testing of the Lycoming ALF-502 commercial engine and alternate civilian fuel (JP8) evaluation of the 175 engine for the F-105 fighter. Other contributions include design and development of high response engine inlet instrumentation for the F100 engine test program, project management of the Army demonstration of a Mach 3 hydrazine fueled supersonic combustor and the P&W Scale-Model Turbine exhaust plume definition.

Stevenson was assigned manager of "limited access" projects in 1981. During the next several years these projects constituted a large percentage of the total overall propulsion workload.

At times there were up to four test cells being utilized concurrently, Stevenson was a leader in developing the unique management and administrative procedures required for these projects.

The streamlined management procedures utilized, coupled with outstanding testing innovations, contributed immeasurably to shortening the acquisition and deployment cycle for these types of programs.

In 1988, he became manager of C-1 and C-2 test projects. One of his first challenges was to resolve the issue of "facility-produced" foreign object damage (FOD) vs. "engine-produced" domestic object damage (DOD) to the Pratt & Whitney XF-119 engine undergoing test in C-1.

Until this issue could be resolved a cloud hung over the AEDC facility. Bringing a new set of eyes, Stevenson took a fresh look at the total facility complex from beginning to end which resulted in a "clean bill of health" for the facility. The parallel investigation by the engine manufacturer team subsequently verified the problem to be engine related.

Over the next several months Stevenson's superb management of the proprietary, competition-sensitive, simultaneous testing of the XF-119 and XF-120 during the demonstration and validation of the YF-119 and YF-120 during flight test clearance for the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) - later designated the F-22 - clearly was a major contribution to the acquisition process of this priority national program.

Stevenson pioneered efforts to prepare AEDC for forthcoming T&E of In-Flight Engine Health Monitoring Systems (EHMS). This included identifying and developing the necessary technology to evaluate these types of monitoring systems.

He provided both analytical and experimental support for the F-15/F100 engine. He was a key participant in the development of the 1978 Flight Test Plan for the in-service demonstration of a prototype A10/TF34 EHMS.

These efforts were favorably acknowledged by AFLC, the Propulsion Lab and Aeronautical System Division and propelled him on the way of becoming a recognized leading authority on testing EHMS not only for ground testing but also for flight test.

Because of the importance of EI-IMS in helping to reduce life cycle cost of aircraft engines, a national committee was organized in 1976 by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Stevenson was invited to serve on this committee the following year and was an active member of SAE for more than 15 years, serving as its chairman for five years.

In the early 1990's, Stevenson was a key participant in the team initiative to bring commercial test programs into the AEDC propulsion facilities. He identified and drafted the initial issues and boundaries for successful testing of the PW4084 engine for the Boeing 777.

As Director of the Business and Planning Department, Mr. Stevenson continued to make major contributions in areas of strategic planning, Center re-engineering efforts and marketing initiatives.

Stevenson brought his project management, engineering background, line operational knowledge and experience, analytical abilities, attitude that "we must do it right" and a large dose of common sense and leadership skills to AEDC business management.

He was truly the ideal person for the challenges of the time in improving business management and leadership for AEDC.

Throughout his career, he has been an active participant in numerous professional and technical organizations not only as a member but also in various leadership roles.
Stevenson retired from AEDC in 2004.

Editorial Note:
The AEDC Fellows Program honors individuals who have made substantial and exceptionally distinguished contributions to the nation's aerospace ground testing capability at AEDC. All military, civilian and operating contractor/subcontractor Team AEDC members, presently or once assigned to AEDC, are eligible. Candidates must have personally made sustained, notable, valuable and significant contributions in aerospace ground testing while at AEDC. Inductees are honored annually on a date to coincide with General of the Air Force Henry H. "Hap" Arnold's birthday (June 25th) for whom the award, the test center and the installation are named.