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Old 05-30-2011, 03:31 AM
Ernie P.
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Default RE: Knowledge Quiz for Warbird wiz

ORIGINAL: perttime

Got it:

Convair NC-131H TIFS (Total In-Flight Simulator) reg# N793VS

''The front cockpit could be set up with the cockpit of anything and through computers the aircraft can be made to handle as that particular aircraft.''

(I still want to give the turn to proptop for working hard in this)
And Perttime nails it!!! That's the answer you've all been searching for! The 1955 Convair NC-131H, known as the Total-In-Flight Simulator (TIFS).
A truly unique aircraft; built on a common airframe; which could mimic the flight characteristics of any aircraft; or help developers and designers figure out what the flight characteristics would be for an aircraft being designed or developed. Perttime would be up, although he has generously offered his turn to Proptop. So, take it away, Proptop. Thanks; Ernie P.

P.S. I figured we'd had enough softball questions; although I knew there was a chance one of you guys would nail it with the first clue. Tnx; EP

This aircraft was unique. It was also one of the most significant and influential aircraft ever flown. And yet, it is one of the least known.

Question: What aircraft do I describe?


(1) Truly one of a kind.

(2) Developed from a rather common airframe.

(3) Flew research missions for many years.

(4) Many of today’s advanced aircraft technologies were developed and advanced by this single aircraft.

(5) One of the strangest looking aircraft ever flown.

(6) Flown by perhaps more different pilots, and test pilots than any individual aircraft in history.

(7) The aircraft’s configuration was designed to be quickly, and radically, altered.

(8) Its unique value was in its ability to mimic the flight characteristics of other aircraft.

(9) The aircraft was built in the mid 1950’s, yet served until only a few years ago.

(10) Flew over 2,500 research flights.

(11) Played a very influential role in the development of both military and commercial aircraft.

(12) Influenced the development of the Space Shuttle.

(13) Influenced the development of the B-1B Lancer.

(14) Influenced the development of the B-2 Spirit.

(15) Influenced the development of the SST.

(16) A unique and valuable tool for aircraft researchers and developers.

(17) Retired in 2008, it now resides in a museum.

ANSWER: The 1955 Convair NC-131H, known as the Total-In-Flight Simulator (TIFS).

11/17/2008 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) A piece of aviation history was retired and transferred to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB Nov. 7.

The 1955 Convair C-131, known as the Total-In-Flight Simulator (TIFS) made its final flight to the museum, ending a lifetime of more than 2,500 research flights and a legacy of advancing many of the flight technologies that are integral to today's Air Force. Prior to its retirement, the TIFS was the oldest operating aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

After a retirement ceremony at the Niagara Falls International Airport, N.Y., the TIFS was flown to Wright-Patterson AFB, where it took its final flight to Area B runway adjacent to the world's largest military aviation museum, where it will eventually be placed on display.

For more than 30 years, the TIFS served as a highly versatile in-flight simulator, allowing pilots to completely replicate the flight characteristics of many different types and configurations of aircraft. In addition, it facilitated research into flying qualities, avionics, and displays.

According to Vince Raska, Air Force Research Laboratory program manager, the research that was achieved through the use of the TIFS provided Air Force program managers with a higher level of confidence in a concept's design, utility, and pilot acceptance than would have been possible through ground simulation techniques.

TIFS remained an active research vehicle, performing simulation flights until its retirement.

The TIFS is a one-of-a-kind simulator, in both capabilities and appearance. One look at the TIFS reveals two unique features, the sideforce generators on the wings and the dual piggybacked cockpits.

The sideforce generators allowed TIFS to simulate an aircraft's six degrees-of-freedom (pitch, roll, yaw, lift, thrust and sideforce) all the way to touchdown, something no other U.S. in-flight simulator can do today.

The dual cockpits allowed test pilots to fly from the lower one, which served as the simulation cockpit during testing, while the upper one housed two safety pilots who monitored the simulations and the aircraft's normal controls and systems. These safety pilots were also capable of taking control of the vehicle if needed.

However, the unique qualities of the TIFS extend far beneath the surface. The nose of the TIFS was easily replaceable, giving it the flexibility necessary to simulate many different types of aircraft and actual flight hardware. The vehicle also featured a large cabin, which provided room for additional test equipment or pilot and engineering crews.

The TIFS has played a pivotal role in developing many of the Air Force weapon systems and technologies of today. Over the years, the TIFS has simulated both military and commercial aircraft such as the B-1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit, Space Shuttle and the Boeing Supersonic Transport.

"After talking with many of the people involved with TIFS over the years, it's easy to see that the TIFS provided decades of critical simulation test results vital to aircraft research," said Mr. Raska. "Its role in advancing the acceptance of aircraft technologies made it the ultimate tool in the aircraft developer's and researcher's toolbag."

In the coming months, the TIFS will be prepared for preservation at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force restoration hangar. A ceremony is planned at the museum when the vehicle is placed on display.

This one-of-a kind aircraft was created for the U.S. Air Force in the late 1960s by the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory of Buffalo, N.Y. (later the Calspan Corp.). Engineers used it as an in-flight simulator to study how an aircraft would fly before building an expensive, full-scale prototype.

Originally a USAF C-131B transport aircraft, this airplane underwent extensive modifications. Its original piston engines were replaced by turboprop engines with nearly twice the horsepower, but the most noticeable modifications added the second cockpit on the nose and the vertical fins on the wings. It was redesignated the NC-131H with the "N" to indicate that the aircraft had been permanently modified.

The TIFS could be configured with two different noses. The first nose is a two-place cockpit from which onboard computers simulated the handling characteristics of various aircraft. It provided a large field of view and contained reconfigurable controls and instrument displays. The original cockpit carried two safety pilots who monitored the simulations and could take control in case of a problem.

In the second configuration, called the Avionics Systems Test and Training Aircraft (ASTTA), the avionics nose carried large prototype radars, infrared cameras, and other sensors. A crew station in the main cabin accommodated the system operators.

Engineers found the TIFS especially useful for studying how large aircraft would handle during takeoff and landing. Vertical fins on the wings generated side forces to simulate crosswinds and provided test data.

The TIFS made its first flight in 1970, and its first research project simulated the B-1 bomber in 1971. During its long career, the TIFS simulated many military and NASA aircraft including the B-1, X-40, Tacit Blue, Space Shuttle, B-2, YF-23 and C-17. Civilian aircraft development projects included the Boeing Supersonic Transport (SST), 7J7, MD-12X and Indonesian N-250. It also served to train test pilots. The TIFS came to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 2008.

Engines: Two Allison 501-D22G of 4,368 hp each