Today we’re celebrating National Aviation Day and the birthday of Orville Wright, who along with his brother Wilbur, invented the first successful airplane. In Tennessee, we’re helping aircraft take flight not only within the confines of the Earth’s atmosphere but well into the far reaches of space.

Tennessee’s impact on the aerospace industry can be felt from one end of the state to the other with 32 aerospace businesses employing more than 2,100 Tennesseans, but it’s a town of 19,000 residents in southern Middle Tennessee that lays claim to some of the most unique aerospace assets in the world.

Tullahoma, Tennessee is home to the U.S. Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) and the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) that have helped make the city a hub for aviation, aeronautics and avionics activities and industries.

AEDC is the most advanced and largest complex of flight simulation test facilities in the world and has a replacement value of more than $11.8 billion. There are 43 aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnels, rocket and turbine engine test cells, space environmental chambers, arc heaters, ballistic ranges and other specialized units. Nineteen of these test units are unmatched anywhere in the U.S. and 14 are unique in the world.

Flight conditions from sea level to 300 miles and from subsonic velocities to Mach 20, can be simulated at AEDC, and it has contributed to the development of practically every one of the nation’s top priority aerospace programs including the Atlas, Titan, Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs, the space shuttle, space station, and Projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

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