Science and Technology News

Monday, March 11, 2013

SAVE the birds

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

3/11/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- From a tiny room within Air Mobility Command behind a computer, the command's chief scientist educated more than 500 students from 30 Illinois schools about air mobility aircraft - and birds.

Dr. Don Erbschloe, or "Doc E," hosted a webinar to teach children ranging from grades four through eight how AMC learns about flying aircraft more efficiently from studying how birds fly.

$AVE, or Surfing Aircraft Vortices for Energy, is one example of how AMC learns from the birds. The concept, adapted from how geese fly behind another using the updraft as free airlift, has been applied to C-17 aircraft. This idea was initially tested last year and has shown to reduce fuel consumption by 8-12 percent.

"It's important for the command and it's important for the nation for the next generation of children to become engaged in science and technology early," said Erbschloe. "Their level of curiosity is unquenchable."

In addition to being the teacher, Erbschloe also became the student.

"It was very much a give and take," said Erbschloe. "I was blown away by their insightful questions. I had an interesting question about applying the way a bird flies the distance of the Arctic Circle to the way a C-17 flies to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze."

This was Erbschloe' s first webinar, but he hopes to conduct more.

"The children's force of imagination and wonder are natural resources we need to tap into," he said. "I hope other members of the Air Force get to reach out to the next generation in similar interactions."

Erbschloe's webinar was in support of the Illinois Math and Science Academy FUSION Program, a non-profit organization located near Chicago.

"IMSA FUSION students and teachers across Illinois truly enjoyed Dr. Erbschloe's webinar," said Jami Breslin, IMSA FUSION program director. "Students and teachers alike were extremely engaged and excited to interact with Doc E online.

'Students had incredible observations and insights on flight research with birds and the implications that research has in the military," she continued. "We were honored and privileged to bring this enriching experience to our partner schools, and are grateful to Doc E and Air Mobility Command for working with us."

$AVE was developed by the collaboration of AMC, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the 412th Test Wing, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the Defense Advanced Research Projects, the Boeing Company and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.

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