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Archive for the ‘SOFIA AAA Experiences’ Category

SOFIA not only Infrared Science

Sept. 18, 2013

Jennifer and I with SOFIA pilot, Arthur “Ace” Beall, former Space Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Pilot. He was co pilot Wednesday evening so he was able to take a break and visit with us. Ace’s landing Monday was nothing short of incredible he touched down this 747 Heavy like a fine piece of china.
Behind us you can see the science investigators (in blue jump suits), engineers (tan jumpsuits), and the instrument portion of the infrared telescope.

Jennifer and I not only were able to witness data collection during our SOFIA flight we were also allowed to ride in the cockpit. Monday night Jennifer enjoyed two sunsets as she sat behind Ace during take off and then Tuesday morning I was able to watch as the pilots turned on the runway lights and landed  SOFIA without assistance from a radio control tower.   Throughout our Monday and Wednesday night flights we were able to sit in the cockpit with Ace (pilot), Jim Less (pilot), and Tom Speer (Flight Engineer) as the autopilot mapped out our course.   Several times we heard Randy Grashius, our mission director (MD), ask if the plane could climb higher.  If the plane was light enough (had used a large portion of gas), commercial aircraft traffic “lanes” were clear, and the atmosphere allowed we climbed, otherwise the pilots would inform the MD that we would have to wait.   The mission director and science investigators would expect to make their highest altitude observations during the last leg of the flight when the plane is lighter, but would sometimes request a quicker climb so instruments could be calibrated quickly.

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