Colonel Michael T. Panarisi has a history with the F-111, the aircraft that took him through thirty missions in Desert Storm. Panarisi, Commander, Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), Air Force Materiel Command and former F-111 Weapons Officer, told a group at The SimCenter: National Center for Computational Engineering he dreams of getting back in the F-111, which was retired from the US Air Force by 2000. Looking through the clear box at a model of the plane he used to fly, Panarisi admitted the creation of its miniature version is the final nail in the coffin for the aircraft affectionately called the Aardvark.
“She still looks good to me. If she was in the parking lot right now, I’d take her for a ride,” Panarisi joked.
Students studying computational engineering at UTC and visitors of the National SimCenter may not be able to go for a ride, but they can draw inspiration from the F-111 Wind Tunnel Model Display available for viewing in the atrium of the building. It is unusual for AEDC to loan a valuable wind tunnel model display, but a partnership is developing between AEDC and the National SimCenter.
AEDC is “the most advanced and largest complex of flight simulation test facilities in the world. The center operates 58 aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnels, rocket and turbine engine test cells, space environmental chambers, arc heaters, ballistic ranges and other specialized units. Twenty-seven of the center’s test units have capabilities unmatched elsewhere in the United States; 14 are unique in the world.”
Funding the power used to create this testing environment is expensive, Panarisi readily acknowledged. By using computational simulations at the National SimCenter, scientists harness technology and can provide critical data to the AEDC before the first turbine swirls to physically test aircraft.
“Any work done at the SimCenter is money saved by the nation. Reducing the cost of physical testing is literally money in the bank,” Panarisi said.