The City of Rolla lets S&T design teams use the Rolla National Airport tarmac for vehicle testing, and Solar Car, Formula SAE Racing, and now the Formula Electric teams have all taken advantage of the wide-open space.
Originally a WWII Army Air Corps training facility, the airport has a long history of hosting general aviation aircraft, business jets and even warbirds. It’s been a take-off spot for the U.S. Army’s Golden Knight Parachute Team on a local jump.
WWII-era hangars, still in use today, dominate the landscape. A restored Air Force C-47 cargo plane, owned by an S&T alum, sits proudly next to a modern aircraft maintenance facility.
Sunday afternoon the S&T Formula Electric team ‘took the field’ to introduce incoming freshmen to the joys of silent speed and recruit them to the team. The newbies learned the basics of laying out an autocross track lined by hundreds of orange cones, and got excited about being a part of a real racing team (it’s really a design team, but don’t tell them that). Barring any tied-down Cessnas, Piper Cubs or crop dusters, the aircraft parking areas are the ideal place to test, test, and test some more. Just one rule; arriving/departing aircraft have the right of way. No worries, not a plane to be seen.
Which brings us to the questions…
Do you realize a big private jet can be pretty quiet on landing approach? That if your head is under the hood of your race car, or you’re busy analyzing data on your laptop that you might not notice approaching traffic?
Nah, that’d never happen!