In 1963, the first lunar landing was tested at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The test facility is now used for crash testing of small aircraft. The test gantry structure stands 220 ft tall and 380 ft long, and is now called the Full Scale Dynamics Research Facility. The gantry is used to lift and then drop aircraft in a controlled manner to analyze the effects of a crash.
In 2001, the facility tested Beeche’s ability to develop a safe and effective platform system to provide access that would enable Main Industries, Inc. to blast and re-coat the massive steel truss structure. Mike Challoner, the President of Main Industries, surveyed the magnitude of the project and enlisted the services of Beeche. The companies worked together previously on the re-coating of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise as well as other ships being overhauled at the Newport News Shipyard. Portions of the structure were re-coated in phases due to its size and the facility’s schedule for testing. The portion of the structure for this phase of the project included three sections of the uppermost trusses.
Beeche developed an access platform system that utilized a combination of the Steel Modular Truss Frame Platform and Aluminum Space Frame Platform Systems. Five Truss Frame Platforms were utilized, two measuring 24 ft by 44 ft and two others being 24 ft by 48 ft. The fifth Truss Frame platform measured 16 ft by 20 ft. The Aluminum Space Frame platform utilized for the end truss of the gantry measured 24 ft by 64 ft. All of the platforms needed to safely support the weight of the workers, their equipment, a containment structure and blast media and paint debris generated in the operation. Due to the height of the structure and its proximity to the Virginia shore, wind was also a significant consideration. An analysis of the gantry structure was also required in order to determine its ability to support these loads.
Beeche also provided extensive on-site technical support services, including supervision and training of Main Industries personnel for the project during assembly, hoisting and relocation of the platforms.