Ice Cream Social 2023

The SFBAC continues its tradition of hosting an ice cream social at Ames during the summer. The event provides interns that opportunity to connect with each other and Ames personnel. We held the event on July 26th and everyone raved about how good the ice cream was!

Virtual Technical Seminar – Jetpack Concept for Mid-Air Helicopter Delivery at Mars, by Jeff Delaune, JPL (12/14)

Mars Science Helicopter (MSH) is a second-generation 31.2-kg Mars helicopter designed to carry a 5-kg science payload up to 13.3 km in range in single flight, or maintain 6.5 minutes hover time. Mid-Air Helicopter Delivery (MAHD) is a new Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) architecture to enable in situ mobility for Mars science at lower cost than previous missions. It uses a jetpack to slow down a MSH after separation from the backshell, and reach aerodynamic conditions suitable for helicopter take-off in mid air, removing the need for a dedicated landing system. For given aeroshell dimensions, only MAHD’s lander-free approach leaves enough room in the aeroshell to accommodate the largest rotor option for MSH. This drastically improves flight performance and allows +150% increased science payload mass. Compared to heritage EDL approaches, the simpler MAHD architecture is also likely to reduce cost, and enables access to more hazardous and higher-elevation terrains on Mars.

Jeff Delaune is a robotics technologist in the Aerial Mobility Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His interests include analysis, design, implementation, and testing of new technology for planetary exploration, with a particular focus on autonomous aerial systems and vision-based navigation so far. Jeff is part of the Guidance, Navigation and Control team for NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. He received his Ph.D. in Robotics from Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (ISAE, France) in 2013, after a M.S. in Astronautics and Space Engineering from Cranfield University (United Kingdom), and a B.S./M.S. in Engineering from École Centrale de Nantes (France).

Wednesday, December 14, 3:00pm PST

Location: Online. Microsoft Teams invite will be sent out to those who RSVP

All Attendees: Please RSVP to Stephen Wright ( by Tue, Dec 13

Technical Seminar – Oct 26th at 3:00pm: Ken Mort of NASA presents “The World’s Largest Wind Tunnels: Their History, Contributions to Aeronautics, and Importance to Flight – A History of the NASA Ames 40- by 80-Foot and 80- by 120-Foot Wind Tunnels”

by Kenneth Mort
Former NACA and NASA Research Engineer

This will be a second presentation of Ken’s excellent talk that he gave at the SFBAC Awards Banquet on Aug 18. If you missed it or weren’t able to get a signed copy of Ken’s book, here’s your second chance!

This is the first comprehensive reporting of the history of the world’s largest wind tunnels. The publication covers 80 years of design, construction, use, and modifications to what is today referred to as the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex and currently operated by the U.S. Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Complex at NASA Ames Research Center. The 409-page NASA Special Publication is the definitive manuscript describing the circumstances and justifications for the requirements, test objectives, and usages of the world’s largest wind tunnels. It documents every test program conducted in the facilities since their inception in July 1944 for the 40- by 80-Foot Wind Tunnel and since 1987 for the 80- by 120- Foot Wind Tunnel, respectively, through the year 2020.

Mr. Kenneth Mort was an NACA test engineer assigned to the 40- by 80-Foot Wind Tunnel in the 1950s and has remained involved with test operations and NASA and Air Force wind tunnel staff to today. His often first-hand recollection of testing activities over this period is unmatched for any wind tunnel facility in the world. His collection of archival photographic documentation contained in the book was compiled over years of work with NASA archivists.

Wednesday, October 26, 3:00pm
Location: NASA Ames Research Center, Bldg. N258 Conference Room
Reception and book-signing after the talk!

Visitors to Ames will require a visitor badge – non-Ames personnel must RSVP by Mon, Oct 24 to receive a badge.
All Attendees: Please RSVP to Stephen Wright ( by Tue, Oct 25.
Due to security restrictions, onsite attendance at Ames will be limited to U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents.

Technical Seminar – June 2nd at 3:30pm: Susan Polsky of ONR presents “The US Navy Dynamic Interface Virtual Environment (DIVE) Program”

The US Navy Dynamic Interface Virtual Environment (DIVE) Program

By Ms. Susan Polsky
Office of Naval Research (ONR)

A unique aspect of Naval operations is the launch and recovery of aircraft from ships at sea. The complex aerodynamic environment presents significant piloting and aircraft performance challenges. The goal of the DIVE program is to develop modeling and simulation tools, including computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools, to enable the use of M&S to enhance or even replace live flight testing for rotary wing aircraft. The brief will address the CFD modeling and experimental “truth data” aspects of the DIVE program.

Speaker Bio:

Susan received an M.S. and B.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. From 1990-1996, she performed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research for the Aerothermodynamics Branch at NASA Ames Research Center working projects from Mars reentry vehicles to scramjet design. In 1997, Ms. Polsky joined the NAVAIR Applied Aerodynamics Branch where she became a subject matter expert in ship airwake and air/ship integration CFD modeling. Products from Susan’s research are used by many Navy ship and aircraft programs. Susan is currently the Computational Aerodynamics Team Lead for the Office of Naval Research Dynamic Interface Virtual Environment (DIVE) program.

Thursday, June 2, 3:30pm
In-Person: NASA Ames Research Center, Bldg. N219 Conference Room (Spillover via Teams in N215 if needed)
Happy hour at 4:30pm after the talk outside at the Megabites Café tables
Virtual: MS Teams invite will be sent out to those who RSVP prior to the talk

All Attendees: Please RSVP to Carl Russell ( by Wed, June 1, especially if you would like to attend in-person.
Visitors to Ames will require a visitor badge.

Non-Ames personnel: Please RSVP to Carl Russell and submit the attached visitor pre-approval form directly to the Visitor Office by Tue, May 31 to receive a badge. If you have already submitted this pre-approval form within the last year, you do not need to submit it again – just RSVP to Carl.
Due to security restrictions, onsite attendance at Ames will be limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

ARC OPS Pre-Approval Visitor Access Form

Technical Seminar – May 16th at 3pm: Marc Hoefinger of DLR presents “The German Aerospace Center’s Simulation and Flight Test Activities Supporting Handling Qualities Certification of eVTOL Aircraft”

The German Aerospace Center’s Simulation and Flight Test Activities Supporting Handling Qualities Certification of eVTOL Aircraft

By Mr. Marc Hoefinger
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

New methods are currently being investigated to perform certification of future electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency EASA has published a Special Condition for VTOL aircraft, applicable to person-carrying VTOL aircraft in the small category, with lift/thrust units that are used to generate powered lift and control. One aspect that is investigated is a new approach to evaluate handling qualities (HQs) as means of compliance demonstration. Flight Test Maneuvers (FTM) that could be used for this purpose have been proposed. These FTMs are scaled based on vehicle geometry. DLR has performed a simulation campaign with a quadcopter simulation model and flight tests with an ultralight coaxial helicopter to review this approach. The presentation will cover these simulation and flight test activities.

Speaker Bio:

Marc holds a diploma in aeronautical engineering from the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany.

He started his career at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in 2001 and was responsible for a variety of theoretical and experimental rotorcraft research projects, including active trailing edge flaps and transport category helicopter handling qualities.

He participated in wind tunnel experiments and conducted flight tests on different helicopters, ranging from BO 105 to the German Army Sikorsky CH-53.

He was involved in several European and transatlantic cooperative activities, was co-chair of a NATO STO Research Task Group on “Future Rotorcraft Requirements,“ and spent several months at the NASA Ames Research Center in 2006 in the frame of a still active cooperation with the U.S. Army.

In 2011 he was promoted head of the rotorcraft branch at the DLR Institute of Flight Systems. Since then, he has managed the rotorcraft branch in the institute with currently 49 employees. The branch performs applied research on rotorcraft technologies ranging from real-time piloted simulation, system identification, handling qualities and flight control law design, to aeromechanics simulation, rotor control, and wind tunnel and flight testing.

Marc is member of the Handling Qualities Technical Committee of the Vertical Flight Society and of the German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics (DGLR).

Monday, May 16, 3:00pm
In-Person: NASA Ames Research Center, Bldg. N219 Conference Room (Spillover via Teams in N215 if needed)
Happy hour at 4:00pm after the talk outside at the Megabites Café tables
Virtual: MS Teams invite will be sent out to those who RSVP prior to the talk.

Visitors to Ames will require a visitor badge – non-Ames personnel must RSVP by Wed, May 11 to receive a badge.
All Attendees: Please RSVP to Carl Russell ( by Fri, May 13, especially if you would like to attend in-person.
Due to security restrictions, onsite attendance at Ames will be limited to U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents.

Non-Ames personnel who wish to attend in-person will need to fill out the following visitor pre-approval form and return it directly to the NASA security office no later than Wed, May 11 in addition to RSVPing to Carl:

ARC OPS Pre-Approval Visitor Access Form

Virtual Webinar: Rotorcraft as Robots by Larry Young, NASA Rotorcraft Aeromechanics Office (8/20)

This is not a presentation about autonomous helicopters. This is, instead, a talk about rotorcraft that are robots—i.e., VTOL aerial platforms that have some level of capability to transform their nature and/or manipulate their environments. Autonomous system technologies, coupled with the development and maturation of novel aerial vehicle concepts (both fixed- and rotary-wing), leads inevitably to new design paradigms for aerial robots. In that spirit, a number of mission and design concepts for “rotorcraft as robots” are discussed and their merits and limitations are noted, as well as future opportunities for development. The objective of this work is to inspire future generations of aerospace engineers, intelligent systems technologists, and roboticists to develop systems that can address critical societal needs and application domains such as planetary exploration, field science campaigns on Earth, environmental monitoring, disaster relief and emergency response, wildlife conservation, and new aerospace transportation and distribution systems.

Larry Young works in the Aeromechanics Office, NASA Ames Research Center. Larry performs research in the area of advanced aerial vehicle and aerospace system conceptual design. Among his current and past projects are studies into fundamental vortical flow physics, tiltrotor aeroperformance and aeroacoustics, planetary aerial vehicles, vertical lift autonomous aerial vehicles, rotary-wing vehicles for disaster relief and emergency missions, metropolitan aerial transportation systems, advanced tiltrotor aircraft design, and “rotorcraft as robots.” He was an early researcher into Mars rotorcraft and other vertical takeoff and landing vehicles for planetary exploration. He is a member of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter team and mentored Phase A student intern work performed on the Titan Dragonfly project that helped lead to its New Frontiers mission award. He was the principal investigator for the NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI) Phase II study into metropolitan aerial transportation systems, a.k.a. Hopper networks, one of early studies into what has become known as eVTOL and Urban Air Mobility (UAM).

Thursday, August 20, 11:00 a.m. PDT

If planning to attend, please register for the virtual webinar here:

Virtual Seminar: Psychoacoustic Measures for UAM Noise in the Context of Ambient Sound, by Durand Begault

By Durand Begault, Ph.D.
Advanced Controls and Displays Group – NASA Ames Research Center

The noise component of future aircraft and operations from Urban Air Mobility (UAM) vehicles is widely recognized as a challenge to community acceptance. NASA’s RVLT (Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology) program is currently supporting research in the area of human response and psychoacoustics in an effort to augment current metrics for traditional aircraft. This talk will review current work at NASA Ames’ Human Systems Integration Division to evaluate detection, annoyance, and acceptability of UAM sound, in the context of expected ambient sound conditions.

Durand R Begault has worked as a research scientist at NASA Ames since 1988 in the areas of human factors, aerospace communication and warning systems, virtual reality, psychoacoustics, and multimodal research. He is a fellow of the Audio Engineering Society and has over 100 publications and 4 patents assigned to NASA. Dr. Begault recently implemented a multi-channel spatial auditory laboratory for psychoacoustic investigations of UAM sound within the Human Systems Integration Division (Code TH) and works collaboratively with psychoacoustic researchers at NASA Langley Research Center.

Thursday, June 11, 1:00 p.m. PDT
Virtual Seminar – Register Here:

Happy Hour at The SpaceBar, 2/26 4:30-6:30

Social Event

Come join the VFS local chapter at The SpaceBar for a drink and appetizers and maybe some networking on the side!

All are welcome. VFS members will receive one free drink ticket, and appetizers will be provided! 

NASA Ames Research Park
Building 3, The SpaceBar (Corner of South Akron Rd and Severyns Ave)
Wednesday, February 26, 4:30 – 6:30pm

Visitor passes are not required; however, a government-issued ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.) is required for all visitors to the Research Park, including vehicle passengers.

Non-US (Citizen or Permanent Resident) visitors: you will need an international driver’s license if you will be driving yourself into the Research Park. If you do not have an international driver’s license, you may ride with a US Citizen or Permanent Resident, but you will still need to show a government issued ID (e.g., passport) to the guards at the gate.

Technical Presentation – November 6th at 1pm: 2019 Nikolsky Awardee Nick Lappos presents Design Advantages of an Integrated Cyber-Physical Aircraft

2019 VFS Nikolsky Lecture
Design Advantages of an Integrated Cyber-Physical Aircraft
The Path to the Next Generation of Rotorcraft

By Nick Lappos
Senior Fellow – Advanced Technology, Lockheed Martin

Nick Lappos is Lockheed Martin Senior Fellow, for Rotary and Mission Systems, where he is responsible for the Sikorsky Technical Fellow community and the introduction of advanced technologies into new and existing products. Lappos began his Aerospace career in the US Army, where he served a combat tour as an attack helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He joined at Sikorsky Aircraft in 1973. Through 2005 and then again from 2011 to present, he has served in a variety of roles at Sikorsky, including as program director for the S-92® helicopter during its development and certification. Under his leadership, the program earned the Robert J. Collier Trophy. Lappos also served as director of Test Engineering and as assistant chief and chief Research and Development test pilot, logging more than 7,500 hours of flight time in over 70 different types of helicopters.

Wednesday, November 6, 1:00pm
NASA Ames Research Center, Bldg N258, Room 127

Visitors to Ames will require a visitor badge.
Please contact Natasha Shatzman to obtain a visitor badge.
Non-US persons – please contact Natasha ASAP, and we will do our best to get you a visitor badge.