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NASA Plum Brook took lead in turbine technology

Sandusky Register Staff • Mar 14, 2011 at 10:08 AM

We were startled when the head of the United Steelworkers, the national labor union, mentioned Sandusky's role in developing the modern wind turbine.

Appearing on the March 6 edition of ABC's "This Week With Christiane Amanpour," USW president Leo Gerard asserted that the U.S. needs a national strategy to promote manufacturing.

"If you look at a modern wind turbine invented in Sandusky, Ohio, we can't make a wind turbine from start to finish, because we've never had a strategy," he said. The engineering of wind turbines did indeed advance in Erie County, near Sandusky, according to a Federal Laboratories Consortium website, bit.ly/fNpJMx.

"With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, NASA constructed and operated its first experimental wind turbine at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. Throughout the program, NASA developed a total of 13 experimental wind turbines," the article says.

The leading method for developing wind turbine performance was developed at Plum Brook by two NASA engineers, Bob Corrigan and Larry Viterna.

Viterna did not realize how influential his work had been until he Googled his name recently and found hundreds of references to his analytical model, the article said.

-- Tom Jackson

Sandusky is in Sandusky County, right?

Geography in Erie County can be confusing. Just ask Andy White.

Huron's city manager attended Thursday's groundbreaking for the latest Kalahari expansion. White's badge identified him as the "Huron County manager."

"I've got a promotion," White quipped, showing his badge to Erie County administrator Mike Bixler.

Reporters at the Sandusky Register have found that out-of-town officials assume Sandusky is located in Sandusky County.

And if you search for "Erie County" in Google, be sure to add "Ohio" as a search term.

Otherwise, you'll find out a lot about life in Buffalo, N.Y.

-- Tom Jackson

Questions bring certainty

The worst call a reporter can receive, in my opinion, is the one in which someone insists the reporter is inaccurate.

Last week, I wrote a fun story about Fred Vance.

The Sandusky resident served as a crew chief for the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. He enlisted when he was 17.

Many read it, but a few questioned Vance's validity.

A national spokesman for the Tuskegee Airmen contacted me. He said the organization had no records of Vance ever serving with the unit.

I knew Vance didn't make the story up -- his emotions about the experiences were too strong.

So I went to Vance's house, picked up his military records and zipped them via e-mail to Los Angeles, where the committee is located.

About 12 hours later, I received a phone call from the spokesman. The discharge papers proved Vance served with the Tuskegee Airmen.

Now his name will forever be associated with the Tuskegee Airmen in the record books.

I'm just glad someone questioned my accuracy -- it led to a great discovery.

-- Andy Ouriel

Woman fired up after getting snowed

A woman called me two weeks ago, furious because two city snow plows covered her with snow as she walked near Filmore Street and Hayes Avenue.

Sandusky general services superintendent Scott Miller investigated the matter.

He said the snow plow workers tried to stop but couldn't hit their brakes in time. They hit a big patch of snow and clobbered the woman.

Miller apologized on behalf of the employees, and the woman accepted.

"It was an accident," Miller said. "That is the first time I have had to deal with that situation in the three-and-a-half years I've been here."

-- Andy Ouriel

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