Inside the Gentle Giant

By David Brown

Imposing from any viewpoint, the Super Guppy can carry an amazing variety of shapes inside its 25 ft wide, 25 ft high, and 96 ft long cargo compartment. Based on the Boeing Stratocruiser and modified with a greatly enlarged fuselage, turboprop engines, reinforced landing gear, and a side-opening cargo nose, this is the only flying example of the five Super Guppies built. (NASA)When a giant turboprop cargo plane recently droned into Long Beach in Southern California, it marked the latest chapter in a fascinating tale.

When NASA needed to move a large box-shaped structure some 30 ft long and of 10,000lb weight across country from Southern California to NASA Langley in Virginia, they did not have to look far. As it happens, NASA owns and operates the sole remaining operational Turbine Super Guppy (out of the five built during the ‘60s to carry outsize pieces of cargo). The Super Guppy (NASA 941) is currently based at the NASA facility in El Paso, Tex., and flew from there to the west coast to pick up its cargo. The payload on this occasion was a composite, double-deck multi-bay box made for NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project. This test article represents a 75 percent scale version of the center section of a hybrid wing-body aircraft (think of a scaled-up X-48, flown at NASA Dryden some years ago) but now built of a lightweight, damage tolerant stitched-composite structural concept dubbed PRSEUS (Pultruded Rod Stitched Efficient Unitized Structure) built by Boeing Research and Technology in Huntington Beach, Calif. and assembled in Long Beach. The innovative structure comprises carbon-epoxy panels, which are infused with resin and cured by vacuum pressure without having to use a large autoclave, which would normally be required.

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HAI Heli-Expo Set for March 2-5, Preliminary Schedule Announced

The world’s largest helicopter trade show and exposition produced annually by Helicopter Association International, HAI Heli-Expo, features one million square-feet of exhibit and meeting space, international press exposure, numerous sponsors, 20,000 potential buyers, more than 700 exhibitors, 60 helicopters on display, and many educational opportunities. This year’s event is set for March 2-5, with some preliminary events beginning on Feb. 27. Heli-Expo takes place in Orlando, Fla. and will feature a membership meeting, industry career fair, online silent auction, fundraising golf tournament, and the annual Salute to Excellence Awards dinner. The schedule below features dates and times but is subject to change. For more information, including tickets and lodging, visit

For the 2015 HAI Rotor Safety Challenge, HAI will present 52 safety education events free to HAI HELI-EXPO attendees and exhibitors. Session topics cover a wide range of safety issues, including fuel management, post-accident next steps, and safety culture and social media.

Based on attendee feedback, we’ve added some features to this year’s Challenge:

  • Replay Sessions are repeated, giving you more opportunities to catch the sessions you don’t want to miss
  • In-Depth Sessions are longer than 60 minutes, allowing some subjects to be covered in more detail

No advance registration is necessary: your HAI HELI-EXPO attendee or exhibitor badge will admit you to any session, but seating is limited. Make sure to check out the 2015 schedule and plan to take advantage of this free HAI HELI-EXPO program.

Take the Challenge: Attend at least six Rotor Safety Challenge events and receive a certificate of recognition! Learn more at

This preliminary schedule is subject to change. Reconfirm dates, times, and locations on site; complete information will be printed in the HAI HELI-EXPO 2015 Program & Exhibit Guide, and more information is available at

Back by Popular Demand! Take the 2015 HAI Rotor Safety Challenge! It’s free for HAI HELI-EXPO 2015 attendees and exhibitors. All Challenge events are marked RSC.

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