October 19, 2007 -
As reported from North American Eagle website.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Wow! What a week. Team North American Eagle™ completed a very successful appearance at the Black Rock Desert. After finishing our 7th test session, the first thing we have to do is acknowledge the achievements of the past competitors at Black Rock. Richard Noble in '83, Breedlove in '96 and '97 and ThrustSSC Team in '97. In the 2 hr BBC Documentary The Mission, the cameras follow the efforts of ThrustSSC record setting performance at Black Rock. Although the show documented what the team went through to get there, you can't really fully appreciate the effort until you have lived it. Traveling to Black Rock this year would be a learning experience for the entire team. Those who have been here before praised Team North American Eagle™ on our efforts. Those included former team members of ThrustSSC who were on hand to celebrate the 10 year anniversary and world record holders Rosco McGlashan (Aussie Invader), John Ackroyd (Thrust II) and land speed legend Craig Breedlove.
Our main goal was to set up camp in Black Rock and come away with the experience we will need next year. Since El Mirage of last year the crew has made several changes to the Eagle and this would be the first time the changes would be tested.
To make a test session with the North American Eagle™ takes a lot of effort. With over a hundred tons of equipment and a caravan of support vehicles it takes a lot of resources. In no particular order we would like to tell you about some of those.
Our debut at the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada was the first time the Eagle was on our all metal wheels. With most of the design done by Eagle Machine, Inc in Abbotsford BC, John Mittlelieder verified the data using Finite Element Analysis (FEA). When FEA showed potential problems, John would tweak the design until satisfactory results were achieved. Through maybe a dozen iterations, the final design was completed and work began at two machine shops located 1,200 miles apart.
Mark Moore, owner of UREMET Corporation builds over 85% of the roller coaster wheels in the world. If you have ever ridden a roller coaster, chances are you have ridden on UREMET Wheels. Machining of the rear wheels would be one of the fastest rides yet for UREMET Corporation to date! Mark and his team of machinists spent hundreds of hours coordinating with the suppliers to get the wheels ready to machine. His team went to extraordinary efforts to get them shipped to Spanaway for final machining. Mark Moore and Dorn Machum were on hand every day during our test session as they flew back from Winnemucca in Dorn's RV 6.
Steve Green and his employees at Eagle Machine, Inc spent over 200 hours finishing the rear wheels and doing the complete machining of the front and rear wheels. The whole process was captured by the cameras from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) who are making the Eagle part of their new Science Series, Project X. To ensure the proper installation of the bearings, Steve brought along his brother Dave and one of their crew members on their record setting Chevy Vega, Calvin Dirks. The team would also like to thank Klüeber Lubrication for providing the finest grease available for high speed bearings. Visitors to the North American Eagle™ complex at Trego Springs on the Black Rock will never know the amount of effort that went into the development of these very special wheels. The project now has wheels that are safe to 900 MPH.
The CBC crew was fantastic! Larry Lynn, Dan Lynn, Jef Henschel, Mitch Gabowrie and Brian Fleck had the cameras wrapped in plastic to fight off the Black Rock Desert fine dust that gets into everything. Long time sponsor and Academy Award and Emmy Winner Dan Wolfe was on hand to provide aerial footage with his Cessna Skymaster. Wolfe Air Limited and Gyron Systems International have the finest aerial HD Camera System made. Everyone reading this has seen a movie made by these two companies. They lead the world in aerial movie and video production. Also on hand to help out Dan was Dave Stevenson. Last June Ed got a ride in Dave's Boeing PT-17 Stearman Kadet.
Molly Bakewell from PCB Piezotronics was on hand to provide assistance where needed. PCB supplies the Data Acquisition System used on the Eagle. In this session, newly installed air pressure sensors were installed to gather data for our upcoming Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) studies. PCB has spent the previous four years helping the team get to this point. Falcon® Electric, Inc was riding on the car for the first time. Their Uninterruptible Power System (UPS) provide back up power for all the PCB Equipment.
Besides the data acquisitions on the car, numerous video cameras were also riding along. Motocam360 cameras were in the cockpit. We first met Tim Ennis from Motocam at Bonneville a few years ago when we installed his cameras on Ed’s 828 Lakester. The video was later used on a National Geographic Show. Olympus Industrial supplied their iSPEED HG high speed video camera that we used to capture the parachute opening event. With capabilities of 33,000 frames per second (fps), the camera provides an accurate analysis of the parachute opening. Traveling for the first time was RocketCam Cameras from Ecliptic Enterprises of Pasadena CA. Built to handle 100g, the small cameras are used on the Space Shuttle and Delta family of rockets. Another customer was Space Ship One that used Ecliptic Enterprises cameras during it’s record setting flight. Steve LaBrecque from Ecliptic braved the dust storms and was with us the entire week. Thanks Steve for all your help!
Also helping Team North American Eagle™ this week was Cover-All Building Systems out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who provided our 32 by 65 foot enclosure. It is hard to imagine how the team could have survived the severe weather conditions encountered this week with out the aid of the shelter. The structure was easy to install, and Team North American Eagle™ assembled the huge structure in about half a day. The support from Cover-All is welcome by all. It not only protected us from the severe dust storms, but provides protection from the glaring Black Rock Desert sun.
Long time fuel sponsor Small & Sons Oil Distribution supplied the hundreds of gallons of Jet A for the car. Imperium Renewables provided support with BioFuels as Team North American Eagle™ continues to research the use of alternative fuels in gas turbines.
Of course we couldn't have gotten to Black Rock with out the help of long time Bonneville Racer Don Lemons and his company Interstate Wood Products. Located in Longview WA, Don lent us his tractor to haul our support trailer. Tom Pengelley handled the driving chores, while John Drury drove the LevX® tractor towing the Eagle Transporter.
Long time supporter of the project, The B&I Marketplace provided funding to help us get to Black Rock. We are pleased to announce that South Puget Sound residents will be able to view the Eagle in person in the next few weeks. We will have the car on display once again at the B&I Marketplace. Look for announcements in a future update.
After driving all day and into the night, the North American Eagle™ vehicles arrived at Gerlach, Nevada about midnight. At first light on Saturday morning the entire entourage migrated onto the Black Rock Desert. We set up our base camp 12 miles onto the huge lakebed. The entire day was dedicated to setting up our huge Coverall shelter and unloading the Eagle.
Sunday was spent installing the new high speed wheel assemblies, high speed parachute systems and various other tasks. Both days provided sunny and calm weather conditions.
On Monday the weather began to change with threatening clouds and wind. In spite of that we continued with preparations to conduct test runs. The conditions worsened and we decided to hold off on the test runs because visibility became poor with the blowing dust.
Tuesday was not much better but the team decided that we needed to get ourselves positioned in case we could get a window of calm conditions. In the early afternoon it seemed like we could conduct a test run we fired up the Eagle and made a test run. The track conditions were very rough and Ed was bounced around inside the cockpit quite severely and at the three mile marker drove into a dust cloud with zero visibility. As he slowed he finally came out of the dust cloud in one piece and still on the track.
Tuesday afternoon we decided to conduct another run. The same conditions prevailed with more dust and zero visibility during the test run. In spite of the terrible conditions, the items we needed to test such as steering, suspension and other technical items were done so very successfully. We cannot even guess at the speeds we ran because Ed was too busy to even glance at the airspeed indicator! Even the camera aimed at the instrument panel came loose from its mount so we lost video. All the work provided by Nick and his crew at Hydraulic Repair & Design (HRD) paid off with excellent performance from our hydraulic system. Although our hydraulics expert on the team, Scott Robertson, couldn’t make it to Black Rock, all the work he did certainly paid off. Other hydraulic help came from Dave Gregory who worked on the suspension system.
Wednesday, the conditions were terrible with 60 MPH winds and dirt blowing into every tool box, storage bin and transportation trailers. We broke camp, went into town for a show and dinner and headed back to Tacoma the next morning. I guess you can say that the Black Rock Desert is one of those places that you can hardly wait to get there and once you are there, you can hardly wait to leave!
Special thanks to Thor and Lisa Holder of Signs By Tomorrow in the Houston South store. They spent many a late night preparing all the sponsor decals that appeared on the car. Power all weekend was provided by a brand spanking new generator provided by Central Welding Supply. Covich-h-Williams Company made the Bureau of Land Management happy. With an ample supply of Sorbents, team members were able to keep every drop of jet fuel and oil off of the desert playa. We also got to thank the good folks at Powder Coatings, Inc who did so much work this past couple months providing bullet proof coatings on our support trucks.
The team that traveled to Black Rock was one of our largest yet. In no particular order Steve & Libby Wallace, Von Armstrong, Sean Rondestvedt, Bernard McVay and his friend Ray Noele, Molly Bakewell and her friend Mike, John Drury, Dave Selby, Tim Finley, Tom and Rich Pengelley, Gino Sanfilippo. John Winchester, Mike Thoe, Rex Walter, Jon Higley, Doug Schwartz, Cam, Rachel and Alex Shadle, Dave Green, Steve Green, Calvin Dirks, Eric Helpenstell and his co-workers Dave Bukovnik and Katie Garijo-Rickard, Mark Sequin, Ed and Elaine Shadle and Keith Zanghi.
Team North American Eagle™ would like to thank the wonderful staff at Bruno's and the Miner Club for being so gracious. We would also like to thank the members of the ThrustSSC Team who were on hand and were genuinely supportive of our efforts.
For more information visit http://www.landspeed.com