Press Release

NASA Talk Shows How Most Aircraft Had Model Beginnings

By SpaceRef Editor
June 3, 2013
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On Tuesday, June 4, at NASA’s Langley Research Center, retired NASA aerospace engineer Joe Chambers will present, “Modeling Flight: The Role of Dynamically Scaled Free-Flying Models in NASA’s Research Programs,” at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center.

Chambers will discuss how scaled models ultimately became vital tools for NASA and the aerospace industry.

Chambers will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the center.

That same evening at 7:30, Chambers will present a similar program for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

Beginning in the biplane era of the 1920s to today’s sophisticated aerospace designs, scaled flight models of military aircraft, civil transports, general aviation airplanes, spacecraft and capsules, and parawing vehicles have been tested in NASA wind tunnels. Many design challenges for these aerospace vehicles included complex flight conditions that are not easily analyzed by computations or simulators.

Chambers will examine how NASA and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, developed experimental testing techniques in unique facilities using free-flying scaled models. He will also show video clips comparing model tests with results from flight tests of full-scale vehicles.

Retiring from NASA Langley in 1998, Chambers began his 36-year career in flight dynamics research at the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel. In 1974 he became the head of the Full-Scale Tunnel, the Langley 20-Foot Spin Tunnel, and related outdoor free-flight and drop-model testing. In 1989 he also became head of aircraft flight research at Langley. He served as a representative of the United States on international committees and has given invited lectures on NASA’s aeronautics programs worldwide.

His awards include the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Exceptional Service Medal, and the Public Service Medal. He also received the coveted Arthur Flemming Award sponsored by the Washington D.C. Jaycees in 1975 as one of the 10 Most Outstanding Civil Servants for his management of NASA stall/spin research for military and civil aircraft. He is the author of more than 50 NASA technical reports and published eight NASA books on aeronautical topics.

Chambers earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Tech and a Master of Science degree from Virginia Tech.

For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.