Attempting to Break the Land Speed Record

Attempting to Break the Land Speed Record with the Help of CFD

North American Eagle's (NAE) all-volunteer team, headed by owners Ed Shadle and Keith Zanghi, is attempting to break the world land speed record. The team is using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to better understand the complex aerodynamics of a car traveling through the sound barrier. They are using a modified Lockheed F-104 Starfighter as the foundation for the car. A supersonic ground vehicle has to deal with the aerodynamic effects of the ground and the suspension system, which an aircraft does not. The suspension system affects the drag, lift, and stability of the vehicle. Prediction of the drag is crucial to ensuring the modified General Electric J-79 turbo-jet engine delivers enough power to enable the NAE vehicle to reach its 800 mph goal. Understanding the car's stability provides the driver with the confidence that they will be able to control the vehicle as it approaches and passes the sound barrier.

Aerodynamics Engineer Darren Grove has been performing CFD analyses using Pointwise for pre-processing, CFD++ from Metacomp for flow solutions, and EnSight from CEI for post-processing to guide the design that will improve the drag and stability characteristics of the NAE vehicle. This webinar will discuss how Mr. Grove used Pointwise and EnSight to help design aft suspension fairings to reduce overall drag on the car while maintaining stability and control. To help validate the CFD simulations, a recent field test at Oregon's Alvord Desert was conducted in which comparisons between experimental and computational results will be shown.

 Discover how to
  • Generate fast, repeatable, complex, viscous, unstructured meshes with T-Rex
  • Employ CFD as a cost-effective tool to help an all-volunteer team attempt the world land speed record
  • Address challenges of designing a stable, low drag wheel system for a supersonic ground vehicle
  • Efficiently extract drag and stability information from a large number of calculations using EnSight


Travis Carrigan, Pointwise, Inc.

Travis Carrigan

Pointwise, Inc.

Travis Carrigan joined Pointwise as a senior engineer after completing his M.S. in aerospace engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington in May 2011 where his graduate research involved aerodynamic design optimization. Currently, as Manager of Technical Sales, Mr. Carrigan works with prospective customers and demonstrates how Pointwise software can be used to improve their CFD process. He also produces technical marketing content and works with customers and software partners to demonstrate best practices in grid generation, solver setup, and solution post-processing for a variety of industries.

Kevin Colburn, CEI

Kevin Colburn


Kevin Colburn joined CEI in March 2007 after working for 14 years in automotive, combustion and aerospace fields as a CFD engineer. Kevin’s background is as a CFD user utilizing a wide variety of tools and techniques in the utilization of CFD within real-world design cycles. Kevin had 7 years experience using EnSight as a user before joining CEI. Kevin received his B.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic University in 1995.

Darren Grove, North American Eagle, Inc.

Darren Grove

North American Eagle, Inc.

Darren Grove holds a BS degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, and an MS in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey CA. Specializing in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and design, with a strong background in wind tunnel and flight testing, and IT support, he is experienced in subsonic, transonic, and supersonic aerodynamics. Darren has over 18 years experience in CFD technologies and has worked on programs like the F/A-18E/F and Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for the Naval Air Systems Command, and the Boeing 787, 777, 737MAX, and Open Fan Rotor programs. Currently, Darren works within the Product Development group at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, analyzing performance on the next generation of aircrafts.