This aircraft is located in the Research & Development Gallery on a secure part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
North American Museum of Flight Simulation Website
This one-of-a kind aircraft was created for the U.S. Air Force in the late 1960s by the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory of Buffalo, N.Y. (later the Calspan Corp.). Engineers used it as an in-flight simulator to study how an aircraft would fly before building an expensive, full-scale prototype.
Originally a USAF C-131B transport aircraft, this airplane underwent extensive modifications. Its original piston engines were replaced by turboprop engines with nearly twice the horsepower, but the most noticeable modifications added the second cockpit on the nose and the vertical fins on the wings. It was redesignated the NC-131H with the "N" to indicate that the aircraft had been permanently modified.
The TIFS could be configured with two different noses. The first nose is a two-place cockpit from which onboard computers simulated the handling characteristics of various aircraft. It provided a large field of view and contained reconfigurable controls and instrument displays. The original cockpit carried two safety pilots who monitored the simulations and could take control in case of a problem.
In the second configuration, called the Avionics Systems Test and Training Aircraft (ASTTA), the avionics nose carried large prototype radars, infrared cameras, and other sensors. A crew station in the main cabin accommodated the system operators.
Engineers found the TIFS especially useful for studying how large aircraft would handle during takeoff and landing. Vertical fins on the wings generated side forces to simulate crosswinds and provided test data.
The TIFS made its first flight in 1970, and its first research project simulated the B-1 bomber in 1971. During its long career, the TIFS simulated many military and NASA aircraft including the B-1, X-40, Tacit Blue, Space Shuttle, B-2, YF-23 and C-17. Civilian aircraft development projects included the Boeing Supersonic Transport (SST), 7J7, MD-12X and Indonesian N-250. It also served to train test pilots. The TIFS came to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 2008.