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October 1997

From murky to perky: Jeffco hangar gets brightened up

The NCAR/NSF Electra sits pretty in its spiffed-up home.

Even as the days get shorter and sunlight wanes, folks at the Research Aviation Facility are basking in the glow of their just-refinished hangar. New lighting and flooring have boosted spirits and improved the working conditions for the aircraft maintenance and instrumentation staff, who spend much of their days on the hangar floor working on NSF/NCAR planes.

"The morale has improved twofold," says aircraft maintenance head Ed Ringleman. "It used to be like a dungeon. You couldn't read a book out here--it'd hurt your eyes. When you're dealing with aircraft, it's intricate work. People would get headaches."

RAF staff are enjoying the lighter, brigher environs.

Facilities Support Services approached the dimness dilemma from top to bottom. New light fixtures "provide more than 60 foot-candles," says FSS engineer Wayne Morrow, "which is about twice as bright as a typical office. Also, we switched from mercury vapor lights [which dated from the 1970s] to metal halide, which is a really white light." Planes and people now scoot across a seamless, supersmooth floor coated with polyurethane. The floor is designed to reflect light upward, which helps when technicians work on the underbellies of aircraft. "The floor coating is 90% reflective--it's almost like a mirror," says Wayne. Overall, the project increased hangar brightness by 400% with only a 30% increase in energy costs.

It's not only RAF staff who will notice the change. "When we're gearing up for a project," says Ed, "you have student assistants, the principal scientists, their helpers--the place explodes with people." Also, he adds, prominent NCAR visitors (such as Margaret Thatcher in 1990) often stop by Jeffco, "which says a lot about the interest of our facility to the community." •BH

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu

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