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Museum Raising Funds For Special G-II

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Officials at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., are hoping a crowdsourced funding effort through Indiegogo will raise $70,000 to provide a proper home for a specialized relic of the Space Shuttle era. The museum has already acquired the Gulfstream II shuttle training aircraft but it's on the ramp at Birmingham Shuttlesworth Airport rather than at the Huntsville Shuttle Park where people can appreciate its unique role in the shuttle program. About $20,000 has been raised for the exhibit, which includes static supports for the aircraft and a simulated shuttle runway leading to it. The GII was one of four used to train shuttle pilots how to land the massive spacecraft and both the design and flight profile of the business jet were radical departures from the Gulfstream POH.

The left side of the cockpit was altered to mimic the head-up display, center joystick arrangement and primitive glass panel layout of the Shuttle. The right side instructor/safety pilot seat had the head-up display but conventional controls. Each Shuttle pilot and commander made about 1,000 practice approaches in the Gulfstream and the "flight" characteristics of the Shuttle were mimicked with some pretty extreme mods and flight profiles. The Gulfstream dove for the ground from 37,000 feet at 300 knots and a 20-degree pitch angle with the main gear down, the thrust reversers on and the modified flaps possibly deflected upwards to become large spoilers. The pilot would start the flare at about 300 feet, dropping the nose gear at 150 feet in case of an inadvertent touchdown and the approach continued until the cockpit was at 32 feet above the runway, the same height it would be in the Shuttle. If all the speeds, position and elevation matched the correct profile, the future shuttle pilot would be rewarded with a green light on the panel before the instructor stowed the reversers and gear and did a go-around.

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