A different kind of flying

What is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s name doing on a dragster? The jet-powered vehicle, which races at National Hot Rod Association events around the country, accelerates from zero to 60 mph in less than a second and reaches a top speed of 270 mph. So it’s no wonder it attracts attention wherever it goes, whether it’s a motor race or Oshkosh.

It also raises awareness that “there’s more to Embry-Riddle than meets the sky,” says George Dewees, manager of student recruiting for the university’s aviation maintenance science program. “We want race fans to know that our degrees in engineering and maintenance extend not just to aircraft, but to high-performance vehicles of all kinds.”

Driven by Elaine Larsen and maintained by Chris Larsen of Larsen Motorsports, the dragster is powered by a Pratt & Whitney J-60 jet engine, burns 25 gallons of jet fuel per pass, and weighs 1,350 pounds with fuel and driver. Its chassis, built by Larsen Motorsports, is made of chrome-moly tubing. It has a 279-inch wheelbase. The body is aluminum and fiberglass.

The vehicle is a redesign of an earlier Larsen dragster, Miss-Ta-Fire, which Embry-Riddle sponsored for two years. During that time, aerospace engineering and aviation maintenance students and their professors analyzed the dragster’s performance using computational fluid dynamics and suggested improvements that were incorporated in the new vehicle.

“Embry-Riddle’s enthusiastic and inventive students are going to get me up over 300 miles per hour,” says Elaine Larsen, who already holds a number of speed records driving Miss-Ta-Fire.

You can see the new jet dragster at this year’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, as well as racing events around the country.

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