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Research Aircraft: the Rotor Systems Research Aircraft (RSRA), Images by Wernher Krutein and PHOTOVAULT®

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A Rotor Systems Research Aircraft (RSRA) is seen here on the ramp at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, in spring of 1984. The aircraft underwent tests at Dryden to
familiarize pilots and researchers with ground-handling and takeoff flight characteristics, as well as to acquire in-flight data in the aircraft configuration, with the main rotor removed.

The test aircraft had a basic helicopter fuselage with the wings and lower horizontal all-flying stabilizer installed. Two auxiliary power plants were mounted on either side of the fuselage. These
GE TF-34's were used to offset drag effects when rotor systems were being tested with the aircraft in compound configuration, and to provide thrust for the airplane configuration.

The RSRA was a unique pure research aircraft developed to fill the void between design analysis, wind tunnel testing, and flight results of rotor aircraft. The joint NASA/Army project began in
December of 1970, with the first of two aircraft arriving from Sikorsky on February 11, 1979. The aircraft was designed to investigate the concepts involved with stopping the main rotor in flight,
with the large blades then providing aerodynamic lift assistance to the stubby conventional wings extending from the lower fuselage. This concept gave the aircraft the vertical flight stability of a
helicopter, and the horizontal cruise capability of a conventional aircraft.

Tests were successful and lead to later rotor research conducted at NASA's Ames Research Center. One of the two RSRA aircraft was later modified to the X-Wing and received limited testing at
Dryden before the program was terminated in 1988.
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