High altitude gust acceleration environment as experienced by a supersonic airplane


High altitude turbulence experienced at supersonic speeds is described in terms of gust accelerations measured on the YF-12A airplane. The data were obtained during 90 flights at altitudes above 12.2 kilometers (40,000 feet). Subjective turbulence intensity ratings were obtained from air crew members. The air crew often rated given gust accelerations as being more intense during high altitude supersonic flight than during low altitude subsonic flight. The portion of flight distance in turbulence ranged from 6 percent to 8 percent at altitudes between 12.2 kilometers and 16.8 kilometers (40,000 feet and 55,000 feet) to less than 1 percent at altitudes above 18.3 kilometers (60,000 feet). The amount of turbulence varied with season, increasing by a factor of 3 or more from summer to winter. Given values of gust acceleration were less frequent, on the basis of distance traveled, for supersonic flight of the YF-12A airplane at altitudes above 12.2 kilometers (40,000 feet) than for subsonic flight of a jet passenger airplane at altitudes below 12.2 kilometers (40,000 feet). The median thickness of high altitude turbulence patches was less than 400 meters (1300 feet); the median length was less than 16 kilometers (10 miles). The distribution of the patch dimensions tended to be log normal

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