Re: What did I see?

Date:         31 Jan 97 14:29:23 
From:         shafer@ferhino.dfrc.nasa.gov (Mary Shafer)
Organization: NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards CA
References:   1
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On 30 Jan 97 00:36:25 , John Hall <john@kodak.com> said:

J> January 24 at about 11:00 AM I was driving down I-190 in Niagara
J> Falls, heading for Canada.  I saw what appeared to be a small
J> transport on final for the NF airport/Air Force base.

J> As it got closer, it got wierder.  It had a fuselage extension that
J> stuck out below and head of the the cockpit, containing what
J> appeared to be a second cockpit.  There were tall fences or control
J> surfaces projecting up and down from the wings, at about mid-span.

J> I confess, I was so boggled seeing this, (and trying to drive on
J> the Interstate at the same time) that I didn't see what it had for
J> engines.  I believe the fin was relatively unswept and rounded,
J> like on the old Convair turboprops.

J> Anybody got a clue as to what this was?  A flying cockpit simulator
J> of some kind?  Civil?  Military?

You saw the USAF NC-131 TIFS, the Total In-Flight Simulator.  It's a
heavily modified Convair 580.  This plane belongs to the Air Force
Materiel Command and is operated under contract by Calspan Advanced
Technology Center in Buffalo, NY (just like the NT-33A and NF-16D
VISTA in-flight simulators).  They do most of their flying at IAG,
Niagara Falls Airport, because it's not very busy and it has a nice
long runway.

Those fences on the wings are side force generators.  The TIFS is a
6-axis variable stability airplane and it's used mostly for handling
qualities research.  Unusual looking, isn't it?

That evaluation cockpit slung on the front can be removed and a
radome-looking nose installed.  In this configuration the plane has
lots of avionics and weapons systems gear and can be used for systems
training.

For more information, you can read "One-Of-A-Kind Research Aircraft"
by Steve Markman and another fellow.  Steve manages the TIFS program
and will be glad to make the plane available for your handling
qualities research programs.  The cost is fairly reasonable, too.

(The TIFS is the only one of the Calspan owned or operated aircraft
that I haven't flown in; I gave up my slot to a co-op and then got
bumped by an astronaut for the rest of the program.)
--
Mary Shafer               NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA
SR-71 Flying Qualities Lead Engineer     Of course I don't speak for NASA
shafer@ferhino.dfrc.nasa.gov                               DoD #362 KotFR
URL http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/People/Shafer/mary.html
For personal messages, please use shafer@ursa-major.spdcc.com