Meeting Features J. Nial on Navy Spin Testing and Announces New Officers

This article first appeared in the  April 1973 Flight Test News.

Mr. John A. Nial, Chief Engineer of the Flying Qualities and Performance Branch of the Naval Air Test Center, Flight Test Division, Patuxent River, Maryland, was the guest speaker at the joint dinner meeting of the Long Island Chapter of the Society of Flight Test Engineers and AIAA Long Island Section. The meeting was held at the Watermill Inn, Smithtown, on February 22. The audience, which consisted of 56 members and non-members was given an exciting, well-illustrated and informative presentation on “The History and Status of the U.S. Navy Stall/Post Stall/Spin Flight Testing.”

Mr. Bill Cutler, outgoing president of the local SFTE Chapter and Assistant Head, Flight Sciences, Grumman Flight Test, chaired the meeting. The guest speaker was introduced by Mr. Tom Kastner, Corporate Manager of Automated Telemetry Systems, Grumman.

Mr. Nial went into the background of the incipient spin out-of-control problems experienced by highly maneuverable naval fighter aircraft, and the development of the flight techniques for investigating these problems over a 28 year period, on 58 different Navy airplanes.

The most frustrating aspect of the incipient spin problem is that, whereas it may be difficult to deliberately spin some aircraft, it is often very easy to inadvertently enter a spin in the course of combat maneuver training. The wide variety of spin modes and appropriate recovery techniques, the difficulty of recognizing spin direction and favorable aircraft recovery motion trends by the pilot constitute severe problems.

Historically, only scant contractor spin and recovery flight demonstrations were required in order to satisfy government spin specifications for a given aircraft type. But subsequently, in service, different modes of spin were entered inadvertently and, through lack of awareness of these modes and the required recovery techniques, many aircraft were lost. Ejection occurred because of pilot lack of confidence in spin recovery. In many of these cases, the aircraft recovered by itself from the spin and flew on without the pilot only to crash when all fuel was expended.

The obvious direction, therefore, was to improve on the spin demonstration specification, requiring more extensive demonstrations as part of a three-point plan:
1. Extensive spin model and high angle of attack force model testing, and analyses.
2. Extensive contractor flight tests at and beyond the stall.
3. Naval evaluation of stall, post-stall characteristics through flight and ground training programs.

The main goal of this program was to establish pilot experience and confidence in coping with aircraft post-stall gyrations and spin and recovery phases.

Mr. Nial went into the representative spin modes of various Navy fighter types, illustrated by excellent movie film sequences taken from inside as well as outside the cockpit. These remarkable records indicated the unusually complex spin modes which can be achieved with certain configurations. Some of the airplane design and control system characteristics contributing to these spin modes and successful modifications to improve recovery performance were outlined.

The Navy program is evidently proving to be a valuable approach to the problem and essential to the achievement of effective and safe Naval fighter aircraft operations.

A lively question period followed the presentation.

Chapter Announces New Officer

Announced at the meeting were the Long Island Chapter officers for 1973 consisting of President – Charles Schiano, Grumman Data Systems, Systems Analysis and Development, Automated Telemetry System; Vice President – Thomas Kastner, Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Automated Telemetry System Manager, Flight Acceptance Department; Treasurer – Richard Orr, Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Vehicle Flight Test, Structural Sciences Assistant Head; Secretary – Ross Bracco, Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Vehicle Flight Test, Propulsion; Sargent at Arms – John Newark, Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Vehicle Flight Test, Structural Loads; Delegate – Bill Cutler, Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Vehicle Flight Test, Flight Sciences Assistant Head; Alternate Delegate – Charles Scally, Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Corporate Instrumentation, Section Head.

The Long Island SFTE Chapter contributed fifty dollars to the local newspaper, Newsday, Christmas Adopt-A-Family Fund in the memory of deceased Grumman Aerospace Corporation F-14A pilot Bill Miller.

This article first appeared in the  April 1973 Flight Test News.

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