You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

AFRL team wins major aviation honor

An Air Force Research Laboratory team has landed a major aerospace award for two designs on cargo hauling aircraft, beating out the Chinese Air Force and a record-setting, near space manned parachute jump for the aviation honor.

The AFRL team, headquartered in the Aerospace Systems Directorate at Wright-Patterson, worked with hundreds of defense and aerospace workers around the country, to share the Aviation Week Laureate Award for Aeronautics and Propulsion with Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co. The team, which collaborated with NASA, received the Aviation Week award at a Washington, D.C., black-tie ceremony.

“We started out 10 years ago looking to change the state-of-the-art and we did,” said Barth Shenk, an AFRL aerospace engineer who called the Agile Speed Concept Demonstrator the group worked on a “game-changing technology.”

“We did something for the Air Force, but the world noticed and that’s what it really kind of says.”

One of five award finalists, the AFRL project beat competitors including the Chinese Air Force, which has fielded a variety of new aircraft, and Art Thompson, project leader of the Red Bull Stratos project, the highest manned parachute drop ever last year that started on the edge of space. The AFRL team also eclipsed finalist Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who has pushed for alternative fuel research in aircraft and ships, and the Eurocopter X-3, a full-scale hybrid prototype that combined both turboprop and helicopter rotary technology.

“Honestly, I was surprised that we won given the competition we were up against,” said Cale Zeune, 32, of Beavercreek, and an AFRL aerospace engineer and program manager.

The Agile Speed Powered Lift System Concept Demonstration, as the project was dubbed, developed large-scale, wind tunnel aircraft models to demonstrate that next generation cargo haulers could land and take off in shorter distances, carry more cargo and fly faster than a C-130 using existing engine technology. The cargo plane could be converted into an aerial tanker, gunship or flown on special forces missions, they said. The concept was tested in the world’s largest wind tunnel at NASA’s Moffett Field in California to a high-tech flight simulator at Wright-Patterson.

“The biggest single challenge was trying to make the system work with available engine technology,” said Shenk, 49, of Bellbrook. “Typically, when you see new aircraft ideas and things like that coming around they’re centered on everything new.

“In so doing, it made the technical problem more difficult, but at the same time it saves years and billions” of dollars in expense, Shenk said.

The short take off and landing capability lets planes fly out of smaller airfields away from bigger, congested airports, he said. “The civil market can also conceivably use this technology,” he said.

The Air Force has not set aside money to build a full-scale prototype, although Shenk said the technology has reached a starting point. “Over a period of a long time, we incrementally built a fundamental technology that’s ready to be used,” he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Military

Vets group appointee disputed
Vets group appointee disputed

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck has asked for a Court of Appeals hearing to remove a recent appointee to the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission, claiming the appointment process deprived the group from putting who it wanted on the five-member panel. The court document, filed late Friday afternoon by Heck’s office, contended the...
All-women skydiving team coming to Dayton Air Show
All-women skydiving team coming to Dayton Air Show

An all-women skydiving team will descend on the Vectren Dayton Air Show this summer and the Navy’s Blue Angels will return in 2018, organizers said. The Misty Blues All-Woman Skydiving Team will join long-time acrobatic champion performer Sean D. Tucker and a World War II-era F4U Corsair fighter plane as part of the line-up June 24-25 show headlined...
Wright-Patt directorate expects ‘spike’ in sales after big drop in 2016
Wright-Patt directorate expects ‘spike’ in sales after big drop in 2016

The Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate handled $8.1 billion in foreign military sales in fiscal year 2016, a drop of more than half from the prior year. AFSAC Director Brig. Gen. Gregory M. Gutterman expects the Wright-Patterson headquartered agency with more than 600 employees who handle deals with 108 countries to see a &rdquo...
Air Force Marathon registration down from last year
Air Force Marathon registration down from last year

More than 4,600 runners registered Monday to claim a spot in the 2017 Air Force Marathon, about 1,000 less than last year, according to an event organizer. But Marathon Director Rob Aguiar said he’s not worried about the slower start out of the running block. “Runners are making more choices,” Aguiar said. “I’m not overly...
QR codes help preserve detailed memories of veterans, fallen soldiers
QR codes help preserve detailed memories of veterans, fallen soldiers

“Quick response” codes have been around since the 90s, but New Carlisle resident Randy Ark and Dodds Monuments of Springfield are pushing to see the codes on more headstones and civic memorials. Ark, a Vietnam veteran, has undertaken the development of Veterans Park in downtown Springfield as his personal mission to preserve detailed memories...
More Stories