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Flight Simulator Shelters, U.S. Army, Ft. Drum, New York

Project Overview: The cold weather in Ft. Drum, home of the Army’s 10 Mountain Division (Light Infantry), is a perfect environment to train soldiers for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Located in upstate New York just 30 miles from Canada, Ft. Drum regularly withstands lake effect snows and extremes in temperature. Two manned flight simulators for the CH47F Chinook Helicopter on site at the base required enhanced protection against these harsh winter conditions. Plans were to initially house the simulators together, and to subsequently move one of them to another Army base.

Challenge: To design a temporary fabric shelter that could function as one large building or two smaller buildings, with the portability to easily relocate all or part of the structure, as needed. The fabric building also required the strength to hold up under the weight of large amounts of snow, while providing insulation against frigid temperatures. To ensure that it could perform under desert conditions, if required, the building’s design had to include protection against extreme heat.

Solution: Shelter Structures created a single 120’ long weather-tight portable shelter that could be split into two 60’ buildings. The structure was engineered to hold up to 70 lbs. per square foot of snow (the standard is 20 lbs. per square foot), and is heavily insulated with an interior liner.

Shelter Specifics: The shelter is designed as a 30° gable; each half is sized 44’ wide by 60’ long with an 18’ sidewall (eave). Height at the center is 28.38’. To meet the snow load criteria, the structure uses a 31oz. polyester PVC fabric. Insulation is provided through foil/bubble/bubble/foil layers and an interior liner, to afford maximum comfort for the soldiers; a heat shield in the roof offers insulation from extreme heat. Each half of the shelter includes one commercial grade steel roll-up door (8’W x 10’H), one personnel door and two end walls, so the halves can be taken apart and installed independently.

Results: The portable building has provided an economical and extremely effective extra layer of protection for the multi-million-dollar flight simulators. “The shelter is a good design for our application, and it is holding up well,” says Steven J. Austin, Mechanical Engineer Lead for the Chinook Manned Flight Simulator. “We looked at several alternatives in terms of design, and Shelter Structures had the best option. Their customer support has been awesome.” The building’s portability and flexibility are also proving to be key: Today, each half of the structure is functioning independently: one part in Ft. Drum, another in Pennsylvania.