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Watch a Giant C-5 Create Massive Wake Turbulence

Research Conducted by the FAA and NASA Determined Safe Separation Between Flights.

Caution:  Wake Turbulence was produced and released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after their comprehensive wake turbulence research program conducted during the 1960s and early 1970s. Wake turbulence was a phenomenon known to pilots but few others. When larger aircraft like the Boeing 747 airliner, the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter and C-5A Galaxy airlifters, and other new large and heavy aircraft began sharing the skies with the civil light aircraft and other smaller airliners of the day, their persistent wake turbulence opened many eyes but was not really understood at first.

The research helped the FAA establish following distance and separation parameters for airliners and other large aircraft. The research and findings highlighted in the film are still very much pertinent today. There is plenty of 747 and C-5A footage in the film and it contains graphic explanations of the mechanics of wingtip vortices and wake turbulence. Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, NASA, and the National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC) participated in the making of the film. This writer actually watched some of the vortex testing conducted at the NAFEC facility near Atlantic City in New Jersey when he was a youngster. Oh, and by the way…that guy flying that Piper Tri-Pacer is a pretty fair stunt pilot!

Here’s a short but eye-opening bonus video of a C-5A and the vortex caused by its wake turbulence.

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.