Lift - Spring 2012 - (Page 6)
WI N G S O F L E G ACY
Teaching with jet ﬁre
Former professor’s lesson leaves lasting impression on students
BY S ARA W I TH R OW
mbry-Riddle’s jet dragster is proof of the adage, “Everything old is new again.” Before EmbryRiddle became a university in 1970, Professor Willard Bolton developed his own version of today’s jet dragster—teaching students the intricacies of jet engines and igniting their dreams with thoughts of driving such a high-powered vehicle. Max Henderson (’85, ’87 ’89, DB), , who attended Embry-Riddle’s Aviation Maintenance Technician program in the early 1970s, recalls one of Bolton’s jet dragsters: a 1961 English Ford Anglia equipped with an auxiliary power unit turbine engine and hydraulic pump. “The rear-end differential was driven by an aircraft hydraulic motor,” Henderson says.
Above: Embry-Riddle students, circa 1965, admire Professor Willard Bolton’s 1961 English Ford Anglia jet car. Left: Alumni Kim Remmel, left, and Bob Runkle pose with Elaine Larsen of Larsen Motorsports at the 2011 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
Now an instructor of Aviation Maintenance Science at the Daytona Beach Campus, Henderson maintains that Bolton was a legend of sorts. A common story around what was Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute at the time (1970) was that Bolton had built a ram jet engine in Miami, and had strapped it atop a car and driven it down the Tamiami Trail (aka Alligator Alley), Henderson says. Bob Runkle (’73, DB), one of Bolton’s former students, recalls the story well. “He [Bolton] said he gured if he could build up enough pressure,
he could light it off at about 90 mph. Alligator Alley is out in the middle of nowhere, so he could get away with it. He said he got it up to about 110 mph.” Humorously, the next day, the local news announced that there were multiple reports of UFO sightings at exactly the same time Bolton had ignited the jet engine on his car, Runkle adds. “They thought there were UFOs down in the Everglades,” he laughs.
According to Runkle, Bolton used jet cars as an incentive for his students to proceed quickly through their
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A JET DRAGSTER
When I start staging [lining up in the starting beams], I am completely focused on the ﬁnish line and everything in between—nothing can break my concentration. I forget about everything going on around me, except how the car is reacting and what I need to do next. I roll into the staging beams, advance the engine to full throttle and begin to introduce fuel into the afterburner. Time seems to be in slow motion; but in reality, in less than a second, the lights
on the Christmas tree [staging lights] illuminate and it’s time to go. I strike the hot streak in the afterburner, igniting all the fuel I have loaded into the pipe. It’s an instantaneous surge of power and I am now out-accelerating the Space Shuttle. My body is withstanding approximately 4 g’s and within the ﬁrst second I have reached 60 mph. I can start to feel the dragster settling in and getting comfortable on the track, like a speedboat getting on plane. In about 3 seconds I am traveling
around 300 feet per second at the ⁄8th mile [half-track]. The dragster continues to accelerate and the quarter mile is complete in just over 5 seconds—at speeds around 280 mph. After crossing the ﬁnish line and deploying the parachutes, my body withstands one more hit of around negative 6 g’s. The force and acceleration my body experiences are almost indescribable and different each time, dependent on atmospheric conditions, track condition and engine performance. —Marisha Falk
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Lift - Spring 2012
Lift - Spring 2012
Letter from the President
Wings of Legacy
Home on the Range
Giving to Embry-Riddle
Alumni in Action
Lift - Spring 2012