Helicopter Test Tower

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Facility 1231A
Helicopter Test Tower

Center: Langley Research Center
Location: Hampton, Virginia
Year Built: 1946
Historic Eligibility: Contributing
Important Tests: Helicopter Blades, Helicopter Rotors


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Contents

[top] History

The Helicopter Test Tower, also known as the Helicopter Apparatus and Helicopter Rotor Test Facility, was a specialized test facility built for bettering helicopter design. The facility was also used as a centrifugal G tester to support the testing of rocket payloads. The facility was conical with a height of 39 feet. The base was 16 feet in diameter and 3 feet in diameter at the top. An elevated safety net encircled the tower. The tower was built in 1946 during the NACA era.

Carl Horne remembered in 2012 that the facility "occupied the area of the present Langley Child Development Center. The original facility design drawings are dated 1944 and 1945. The control room (not shown in the photo) was adjacent to the helicopter apparatus tower, was approximately 19 feet by 20 feet, and occupied the area of the present Child Care Facility (B1231). An addition to the control room was designed in 1971. The helicopter apparatus electrical power was obtained from the B1235 (Frequency Converter Building. Also know as “6000 HP dynamometer”). The frequency converter station could provide power from 2 hertz to 118 hertz with a corresponding range of voltage."

Richard Pappa worked on a noise study in 1975 with Wylie Laboratories prior to joining NASA. Part of his report reads, “The Helicopter Rotor Test Facility consists of a 30-ft-high conical steel structure that supports a single vertical rotor shaft, surrounded at its base by a 10-ft-high octagonal building which houses operating controls and data acquisition systems. Rotor blades under study are attached to a hub at the end of the rotor shaft, accessible from outside the cone structure along an overhanging catwalk. Slip rings at the hub allow blade pressure data from surface-mounted strain gauges to be obtained during operation of the rotor. Drive power is supplied by a 3000 hp induction moor located near the rear of the building.”

The equipment in the test tower was removed in 1982 when the facility was decommissioned, altered, and converted for use as an observatory by Langley's Skywatchers Astronomy Club. The small support building located adjacent to the tower was converted to become Langley's Child Development Center which went through through several expansions through the 1990's. In 2010, upgrades to the center included outdoor lighting which negatively impacted the use of the telescopes in the observatory and the facility was vacated in 2010 and demolished in 2012.


[top] Photos

1922-06-21 Wooden Bladesacility PosterData InstrumentationHub AssemblyPhantom DrawingRotor BladeRotor Hub AssemblyDescriptionDescription and PhotosTest RotorTest Tower19471949 Map - #27 Helicopter Apparatus1950s AerialAerial View1951 View of Test Tower1952 Aerial1954-06 Night Test1955-06-08 Blades on Helicopter Tower1955-06-08 Blades on Helicopter Tower1955-06-08 Blades on Helicopter Tower1955-06-08 Blades on Helicopter Tower1955-06-08 Blades on Helicopter Tower1955-10-04 Wing & Blade Mounted on Helicopter Tower1955-10-04 Wing & Blade Mounted on Helicopter Tower1955-10-04 Wing & Blade Mounted on Helicopter Tower1955-10-04 Wing & Blade Mounted on Helicopter Tower1955-10-04 Wing & Blade Mounted on Helicopter Tower1955-10-04 Wing & Blade Mounted on Helicopter Tower1955-10-04 Wing & Blade Mounted on Helicopter Tower1955-10-05 Wing & Rotor1955-10-05 Wing & Rotor1955-10-05 Wing & Rotor1955-10-05 Wing & Rotor1956-12-05 Parsons 0015 Rotor Blades1956-12-05 Parsons 0015 Rotor Blades1956-12-05 Parsons 0015 Rotor Blades1956-12-05 Parsons 0015 Rotor Blades1957-6-3 H-19 Helicopter Rotor Installation1957-6-3 H-19 Helicopter Rotor Installation1957-6-3 H-19 Helicopter Rotor Installation1957-6-3 H-19 Helicopter Rotor Installation1958-9-4 Rotor Blades Mounted on Helicopter Test Tower1958-9-4 Rotor Blades Mounted on Helicopter Test Tower1958-9-4 Rotor Blades Mounted on Helicopter Test Tower1958-9-4 Rotor Blades Mounted on Helicopter Test Tower1958-9-4 Rotor Blades Mounted on Helicopter Test Tower1959-5-27 Helicopter Rotor Blade1959-5-27 Helicopter Rotor Blade1959-5-27 Helicopter Rotor Blade19701970-10-07 Helicopter Blade1970-10-07 Helicopter Blade1970-10-07 Helicopter Blade1974-09-16 Tower197519842003 Exterior as Observatory


The following photos provide documentation for the demolition of the test tower. Plans for demolition began in 2010 and the facility was razed in July 2012.

2010 Floor Plan as Observatory2011; posts are remnants of poles for safety net2011201120112011201120112011201120122012201220122012Final Grading of Site


[top] Films

Helicopter Research

Visualization of Vertical Flows Over Propellers


[top] Documents

1948 Effect of Wind Velocity on Performance of Helicopter Rotors

1956 Investigation of Compressibility on a Rotor

1964 Facility Resume

1965-1966 Real Property Record

1966 Facility Resume

1967 Hovering Performance Characteristics of a Rotor

1974 Facility Resume

1980 Letter to Remove Tower Equipment

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