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Our project's goal - break the existing record of 763 mph (1,228 km/h) by reaching 800 mph (1,287 km/h)!
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NAE™ Project: Our Most Frequently Asked Questions
1. What kind of car is this?
This is a car we have built to challenge the world land speed record for automobiles. It is in the Unlimited Class; or thrust powered vehicle, much like a powerful leaf blower on a skateboard. It is a form of racing where competitors drive their cars through a measured mile twice, each in opposite directions (to compensate for any tail wind advantage). The average of those two runs determines the final speed of the vehicle.
2. How fast does this car go?
As an aircraft it has traveled 1400 mph at altitude.
Our initial test runs of up to 300 mph in March of 2005, and 400mph in June of 2008, has recently have convinced us that our land speed goal of 800 mph is achievable.
3. Are you guys trying to break the sound barrier?
Yes, that's the plan. However, Andy Green was the first to break the sound barrier by setting the current record back in 1997 at 763.035 mph, which converts to just over Mach 1. The current world land speed record was certified by USAC and the FIA at Mach 1.02. The two runs were officially reported as Mach 1.015 and Mach 1.02, and the 2-way average was stated as Mach 1.02. To break the record the rules require that it be at least 1% faster, or roughly 770 mph to break the existing record. Depending on temperature, it will most likely break through the sound barrier without difficulty due to the car's aerodynamic design.
4. Is this a rocket car?
No. The main powerplant is a J-79 turbojet jet engine. It originally was used in the Phantom F-4's. We are looking at utilizing a small 6,000 lb. thrust liquid propellant motor for added boost. It may be needed to get the inertia started on the North American Eagle™. Performance Data conducted by Wayne Olson shows that we will need 3 1/2 miles to get to 800 mph. The additional thrust of a rocket motor would certainly shorten this distance.
5. Who is the driver?
Ed Shadle is our test driver. Ed has over 20 years of land speed racing experience. He previously held the B Street Roadster class record and has now achieved 400mph in the NAE™.
6. Why the Canadian Flag?
We realized about a year and a half into the project that many of our vendors, including team member Steve Green were from Canada. Also, S&S Turbine Services, Ltd., from Ft. St. Johns, B.C. is the provider of our power plant.That is why we call the car the North American Eagle™. The name was brainstormed from a list generated by Keith Zanghi and Ed Shadle. The team has protected the name by having it trademarked.
7. Are you going to run the car at the Bonneville Salt Flats?
Although we could do slow to medium speed testing at Bonneville, up to say around 500 mph, we most likely won't. The problem with the salt flats is it's too short and Richard Noble experienced a lot of difficulty with lateral slippage on metal wheels on the hard salt surface. Due to the mining of salt and pot ash from there, the area of runnable salt has steadily diminished over the past several decades. Last summer only about 7 miles was usable. We need a solid eighteen miles to run the car at record speeds for good comfort. Also, once the salt gets onto any part of the car, it starts errording the metal which is not good.
8. Where, then, will you run this car?
Thus far the best venue is the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. However, after running there in October of 2005 during the 10th anniversary of the current record, it was discovered that conditions have deteriorated over those years and we are now looking at another Nevada site with better conditions. While there are a few other venues around the world to use, the transport of the NAE™ would be VERY cost prohibitive to do so.
9. How are you going to keep the nose from lifting up into the air?
Knowing the ground effect, as well as the lifting body design of the fuselage, we've only recently designed and installed canards which will be on each side of the cockpit. They will be controlled by a linear actuator which will be operated by both load sensors and a computer that will monitor any change in the nose's attitude to dial down the canards quicker than the driver could react, but not too much so as to keep it from putting too much down force on the front wheels. We're also looking into taking measures to mitigate the shockwave build-up which is our issue of greatest concern once the vehicle reaches Mach 1.
10. How much power does the engine make?
Jet engines are measured in two types of units; one called "horse power", or hp, and the other is called thrust and designated as lbs. With extensive modifications, the ML-1500 we have a test engine that makes about 39,000 hp, and under optimal conditions can put out about 18,500 lbs. of thrust. However, our "souped up" engine for record attempts is capable of generating about 20,000 lbs. of thrust. This engine is also supplied by S&S Turbine Services, Ltd. and was modified by them.
11. How does that compare to real cars?
The car weighs about 13,500 lb., but instead of the approximately 180 hp V-8 engine under the hood, the North American Eagle™ has 42,500 hp! In the Movie War Wagon with John Wayne, the stage coach Wayne drove would have to have a tandem set of horses extending 45 miles in front of the vehicle to match that much power!
12. What kind of fuel does this car use?
The engine uses "jet A" or kerosene. We could use other kinds, but we're currently undecided as to exactly what we will use. This is the standard fuel used.
13. What kind of mileage does this car get?
In full afterburner this car consumes about 10 gallons of jet fuel every second! It consumes 138 lb. of air in the process over the same time as well. In one mile this car burns 50 gallons. When you do the math it works out to .02 miles per gallon, or about 105 feet per gallon!
14. How fast will this car do the quarter mile in?
Because this car is heavy, it will take about a mile for its massive weight to get moving. However, a slow start is exactly what we want, so as to not suck up any F.O.D. (Foreign Object Debris) into the inlets and damage the engine. As its speed increases, it starts pulling about 2.5 Gs throughout the run and will make up for the quick start of a Top Fuel Dragster on the other end. So, this type of vehicle isn't fast off the start and won't do well for time over the first quarter mile since it isn't designed for that. But once it builds up speed beyond what a top fuel dragster can achieve, it's blowin' the doors off!
15. How fast has this car gone?
Low speed tests in March 2005 saw speeds of 312 mph. Higher speeds of 400 mph were achieved in June of 2008 at El Mirage Dry Lake bed. We currently have plans for reaching 500 mph in the spring of 2009.
16. If the tires are only good to 300 mph, then what will you use?
We are designing and building wheels capable of 900 mph. The initial design was verified using FEA (Finite Element Analysis). The wheels are manufactured entirely of aluminum, machined from a solid block of billet. The type of wheel is the standard used by world landspeed record challengers today. When these all metal wheels are going 800 MPH, they will be revolving at approximately 8,000 RPMs!
17. Is this the record holding car?
No. Andy Green set the current record on October 15, 1997. He made a two way average speed of 763.035 MPH. The owner of the car, Thrust SSC, is the former world land speed record holder Richard Noble, from England. He set the record on October 4, 1983 in the Thrust 2, at the same venue; Black Rock Desert in Nevada. We're building the North American Eagle™ to challenge the current record and bring it back to North America.
18. How much steering is involved?
When you look at in-car cameras, the steering of the car is quite extensive at lower speeds, even though the travel of the front wheels only move about 2 degrees right or left from center. When Andy Green was driving the ThrustSSC, he had his hands full keeping it on course between speeds of 450 mph to 600 mph. Perhaps this was due to the power differential of the two Rolls Royce - Spey engines of the ThrustSSC. We can only hope the NAE™ doesn't have similar problems, but we'll find out. If you wish to view this footage, go to the classroom section of this site and find the link for downloading a video clip of the ThrustSSC on one of its runs; in it, you'll see the video black out during the "trans-sonic" speeds between 450 & 600 mph. Once the picture returns you'll notice the run line is off to the right and can hear Green talking about having to pull it back on course to get it on the line again.
19. Can you drive this car on the street?
No. The state patrol and county police have problems with cars that shoot 70 foot flames from the tailpipe!
20. What practical applications if any, does this car have to the real world?
As the project progresses, several examples are proving beneficial in many ways. The first is parachute deployment tests. Results of these can be used in the design of spin recovery chutes for fighter aircraft. Another is the study of high speed vehicles near the surface, such as high speed rail transport or the scram jets currently under development which will reach Mach 1 or better before rotating to begin lift-off. On a more practical level, the magnetic braking system which has been developed for the rear wheels has a multitude of various applications, from non-contact and non-wearing torque converter drives, clutches or brakes, to the use of newly developed alloys which can be applied to improve the safety and strength of newly designed higher mileage vehicles which run on alternative fuels or other propulsion systems.
21. How do you stop this car?
Five systems are used to bring the car to a stop. At the end of the measured mile, the driver pulls back on the throttle. In doing so, he also deploys speed brake doors on each side of the vehicle. These speed brakes are side doors on the fuselage which are part of the F-104 design and are hydraulically actuated outward just forward of the tail section. When the car slows to about 650 mph, a drogue chute will be ejected from underneath. Slowing down to about 500 mph, the main chute is deployed. This slows the car to approximately 125-150 mph, at which time the magnetic brakes (rear wheels) using a "state-of-the-art technology" can be applied. If all or part of these systems fail, the driver can steer the car into an aircraft carrier catch net which has been tested to 300 mph.
22. Didn't a car in the past once break the sound barrier? (submitted by J. McKee)
On December 17, 1979, Stan Barrett driving the Budwieser Rocket Car owned by movie producer Hal Needam and William Frederick, ran a reported speed of 739.666 mph (this equals Mach 1.0106). This run though was never recognized as an official land speed record for the following reasons: It was only a one way run. The rules require two runs, each made in opposite directions, within a one hour time limit. This is done to compensate for any tail wind advantage the car may have in either direction (just like football!). Second, the Budwieser Rocket Car only had three wheels, whereas the rules require a minimum of four which can rotate independently. Third, the timing was calculated using radar supplied by the Air Force. The rules require the timed run be done on a measured (and certified) one mile section, and fourth, the entire event must be coordinated by the official sanctioning body, like the SCTA or FIA.
In spite of all this, it was a magnificent engineering achievement that received world wide coverage and courage by driver Stan Barrett. Peter J. R. Holthusen in his book The Land Speed Record has a well written account of the event. Your local library will have a copy. The Library of Congress number is 86-81747. Good question!
23. What is the current Land Speed Record? ( submitted by J. McKee & Charley Schaffer)
The current record is by Andy Green in the Thrust SSC at 763.035 MPH on October 15, 1997. The *previous* record was *also* set by Andy Green in ThrustSSC, on September 25, 1997, at a 2-way average of 714.444 mph. This record was ratified by USAC and FIA, as was the most recent one of October 15, 1997.
The previous record to Green's Oct. 25th one was held by Richard Noble in the Thrust 2 at 633.468. This was set on October 4, 1983 at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
24. Is there anyone else trying to break the record?
Our latest information reveals that after Fosset's demise in the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the car was stored in a warehouse in Nevada in hopes of being sold by his surviving widow. Roscoe McGlashen has been working on modifying his car and is working on building a new one designed to go 1,000mph! However, the latest announcement of the newest British project - the BloodhoundSSC project - is claiming they will have a vehicle designed and built which will supposedly reach a top speed of just over 1,000 mph.
25. What testing will be done in advance of the record attempt and what speeds are you looking to achieve during these test runs?
Submitted by Matthew West on 9/06/05.
Landspeed racing at this level is, because of the very dangerous and life threatening circumstances involved, has to be a highly disciplined process of testing at each level of increasing speed. The NAE™ is following a carefully planned program of monitoring and checking the operational functionality of systems at all levels; low speeds (already accomplished in the Spring of '05), mid-range speeds (currently being conducted), and high range, or near record speeds. Some of the systems being monitored and checked are various electrical, hydraulic, powerplant systems performance, as well as deceleration systems using parachutes, air brake doors, disc brakes on the front wheel and magnetic brakes on the rear wheels.
This spring the team intends to take the car through a set of mid-range test runs, or sustained speeds of 400 - 600 MPH for a couple of miles, to check some of the new equipment added onto the car after low-speed runs were completed. The nose canards and magnetic braking on the rear wheels are the two major pieces of equipment to be assesed at this speed range. This "small steps process" is being followed, partly because the project is operating on very limited funding at this point, and major work is not possible due to these circumstances until it can be determined that we've designed a working concept.
At the same time, new equipment is being checked for functionality, an array of sensors, placed on parts of the car's body and engine, from nose to tail, will be collecting such data as temperature, pressure, vibration, load, stress, flex, etc. in order to understand what dynamics are occuring throughout the car as it runs at each of these levels. Analysis of this data collection will give our team scientist critical information about how the car's performance is doing at various speeds. Should anything become obvious that makes it apparent something is developing which is not safe, discussion, troubleshooting, and corrective measures will be taken to make the car safe, before the next set of runs commence. Sometimes that might mean discontinuing the current test runs, rolling up the carpet, and going back to the shop for several months.
This process becomes highly critical when the team makes it to our desert venue of choice sometime in the future, because the car will be reaching trans-sonic, and possibly supersonic, speeds of 600 - 800 MPH.
26. What are the timelines for making a record attempt?
Because this project is operating on 100% volunteerism by team members who are working for a living, and since the funding for this project is very limited from personal assets of the co-owners, it is difficult to pin down a "timeline" with any specificity. Over the years this project has been in existence, various small, but a growing number of larger sponsors from the local area up to the national level have come "on board" to provide materials, donations of equipment, or in-kind services to make happen what has been needed thus far.
Should the project be fortunate to land a major corporate sponsorship that will be willing to fund the costs involved in this highly expensive endeavor, then the barriers time and money will be overcome and the team would be able to devote full-time attention to moving the project closer to a record attempt much more rapidly. Making a record attempt, however, involves two factors; a specific season (late fall when the lakebed is in its best condition to run on), as well an uncertainty that is out of anyone's control - good weather in which to run. Ideally, we are hoping it will be possible to go for a record attempt next fall - one year from now. But we're not holding our breath.
Therefore, to attempt to offer a "timescale" with this sport is akin to predicting when you'll be winning the powerball lottery, if your state has one.
28. Doesn't the cockpit need a role cage according to the rules?
Several of the previous unlimited class LSR vehicles (Blue Flame, Budweiser Rocket Car, ThrustSSC, etc.) did not have, nor are any of them required by any "rules" for setting the LSR, roll cages in the cockpit since they are not part of the slower classes (400mph and lower) which do require them. The FIA merely specifies the rules which qualify for a record setting event to be legitimate for the record books and roll cages are not one of them.
29. What would protect the driver in the event of a roll over?
At transonic (above 575mph) and supersonic (above 740mph) there is little that can be done in the way of protective measures to prevent injury or death resulting from the vehicle going out of control; should something like that develop and it would happen very quickly. While we could incorporate a "zero/zero" ejection seat, the questions still remain - Why would he want to eject if he's right side up? Why would he want to eject if he's upside down; only to become a human bullet into the ground? What are the odds that he'll eject at an angle which would allow for survival if he's in the midst of a rapid role and would reaction time be quick enough to know when to? Thus, the driver's attitude has to be, "If it's my time, then I'm gone!" since he knows there's little chance of survival. It's a total commitment and he goes into it knowing the consequences.
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