dazzles the crowd at its Jeffco debut
The new HIAPER aircraft makes its inaugural
landing at Jeffco. (Photos by Carlye Calvin.)
The HIAPER aircraft arrived Friday, March 11, at Jeffco,
dazzling more than 100 onlookers with a dramatic fly-by over
the runway before touching down at 4:08 p.m. Formally named
the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental
Research, the NSF/NCAR aircraft will serve the atmospheric
research needs for the next several decades.
“Is she beautiful or what?” asked a beaming
James Huning of NSF, who traveled on the plane from Savannah,
Georgia, where it had undergone finishing touches.
“Superb science is going to come from this aircraft
over the next 20 to 30 years,” said NCAR director Tim
Killeen at a brief celebration at Jeffco after the plane
Six years in the making, the $81.5 million aircraft is the largest community
project in NCAR history. Its arrival marks the successful
transformation of a Gulfstream V corporate jet into a research
vessel suited for probing the troposphere and parts of the
lower stratosphere on flights that can range up to 7,000
miles (11,200 kilometers) and reach an altitude of 51,000
feet (16,000 meters).
At Friday’s celebration, HIAPER received tributes
from aides to Colorado senators Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar,
as well as aides to congressmen Mark Udall and Bob Beauprez.
EOL's Jim Nolan (left) greets HIAPER project director
Krista Laursen. At the top of the steps is Jim Huning, HIAPER program official
Krisa Laursen, HIAPER project director, congratulated everyone who had worked to make
the aircraft a reality. “A project like this
really takes heart,” she said.
The plane was put through the paces on the flight from Georgia,
reaching an altitude of 51,000 feet. EOL’s Henry Boynton,
the co-pilot on the flight, gave HIAPER top marks. “It
handles really nicely,” he said. “It has a lot
Researchers will begin taking HIAPER on local science missions
in the fall. These early flights will allow the plane's pilots
and technicians to familiarize themselves with the plane
and perform some initial research.
The aircraft’s range, high-altitude capability, and
maximum payload of 5,600 pounds of sensors puts it on the
forefront of scientific discovery. HIAPER will collect data
at the tops of storms and lower edge of the stratosphere,
altitudes out of reach of most research aircraft. It will
enable scientists to survey remote ocean regions in a single
flight to learn more about interactions between the oceans
NCAR will maintain and operate HIAPER at its RAF facility
at Jeffco. NSF owns the plane, which will be used by the
entire geoscience community. • David Hosansky
The aircraft backs into the new RAF hangar at Jeffco.
Staffers and others admire HIAPER in the hangar.
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