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Transportation Toys

Rocket Racing League Ready To Launch 79

capnkr sends us to Wired for the story of the long-delayed Rocket Racing League, which we discussed when it launched in 2005. It seems the league is finally ready to get off the ground. At a press conference at the Yale Club in New York, RRL CEO Granger Whitelaw said rocket-powered planes will fly their first exhibition race in August at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with at least three more races to follow in 2008. "The Rocket Racing League on Monday detailed plans to move from a sci-fi fantasy to a full-fledged commercial enterprise — including 'vertical drag races' using rockets."
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Rocket Racing League Ready To Launch

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  • Space future? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by billy901 (1158761)
    They could possibly use this idea for future space technology testing. They could use a much smaller version of the rockets and see how well it works with earth parameters. Nasa has programs where they test rockets by racing them like this, but it's not nearly as well funded as this because this rocket program with Nasa is very experimental.
    • Re:Space future? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @12:00AM (#23073884)
      That's exactly what they plan, having worked their table a couple of years ago at the X-Prize Cup. Peter Diamandis (X-Prize Foundation) and the rest of that gang are involved so their ultimate goal is to have a testing bed for new rocket technologies in the same way that Formula 1 and the rest develop automotive technologies.

      Of course this is all with the provision that concept works in the first place... but then again I don't understand the popularity of watching car races either, so I can't really judge.
  • The rules (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:00PM (#23073534)
    First one back to the ground wins!
    • First one back to the ground wins!

      err - considering what we're talking about here, I don't know if I'd necessarily call getting back to the ground first 'winning'. Unless you call it the ultimate win, that is...

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Kagura (843695)
      The thing that makes this sort of competition very worthwhile is the fact that the faster a rocket gains altitude, the faster it travels from the surface of the earth. This should not be understated.
      • What is your point, exactly? That's just stating the fact that if it's moving faster, it's moving faster? Are you possibly referring to the fact that the atmosphere is thinner and therefor provides less resistance? Even if you are I don't see what you're getting at :P
  • I'm a yachtie... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Ancients (626689) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:00PM (#23073538) Homepage

    ...and I see plenty of coin being tossed about, both here in New Zealand, and especially in the U.S. and Europe circuits. For these guys $5-10m a year is nothing to throw away on their favourite pastime. This surely has to top them all for finding ways to part overgrown rich boys and their money!

    • Well, the mention of drag racing makes me think more of the car scene, and people tacking fake disc brakes (without calipers=, badly designed wings (my favourite are rear wings behind the rear wheels... on front drive cars;), and 5" exhausts (on a 1.1 non-turbo car), on a lemon and pretending that it makes it teh uber-racecar.

      So, hmm, kinda makes me wonder... how long until we'll see people tacking fake rocket boosters on a second-hand crop-duster biplane? :P
      • Nothing wrong with having a rear wing on an FWD vehicle, it will still provide a bit of high speed stability... not much use for quarter mile drag racing of course.
        • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @07:50AM (#23076070)
          On your typical car, rear wings are completely ineffective unless speeds of 120-150MPH are reached. And at that point, it only starting to exert any significant down pressure. On production sports cars, the effective speed is somewhat lowered to 100-125.

          In reality, the rear wing on most any streetable car is there strictly for cosmetics.

          What's even more funny are the cars that have wings that pop up and down (some Porches and Crossfire, for example). The mechanism can't support more than 200lbs of downward force yet were supposed to believe it helps the handling of the vehicle. To be effective, these things really need to exert many, many hundreds, if not thousands of lbs of downward force. Remember, it needs to counteract the forces which are attempting to lift the vehicle off the ground. This is one of many reasons why breaking 200mph is so dang hard. It also explains why the 200-club is still so small, even at point in time.

          Now, contrast that with wings on dragsters. Make note of where the wings are typically placed and the overall scale of it. Notice it is placed directly into or above the slipstream of the vehicle; which is in stark contrast to most production vehicles, where it is placed well under the slipstream of a vehicle at any legal street speed.
          • I lived in Indy for a few years, and worked for a guy who had a winning race team. I was told that the Indy cars, which weigh approx 1200 lbs at rest, produce over 6,000 lbs of effective downforce when running at speed.

            This is due to the *overall* aerodynamics of the car. Not just because of the wings/spoilers, it is as much a factor of the underbody shape of the car as well.

            I'm with the above poster, I don't see conventional street cars being able to use aerodynamic forces at the speeds they commonly r
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Fifth Earth (1172333)

            You, like so many supposedly "rational" people, have fallen into the aerodynamics trap. Yes, 90% of bolt-on aftermarket aerodynamic devices are useless crap. On the other hand, the simple truth is that 1: almost everyone overestimates how fast you have to go to generate meaningful force from a well-designed wing, and 2: almost everyone overestimates how much force is needed to be meaningful.

            Wings can produce significant downforce at speeds significantly less than 120 MPH. How do I know this? Basic rea
            • by GooberToo (74388)

              You, like so many supposedly "rational" people, have fallen into the aerodynamics trap.

              LOL. *sigh* What I stated is from a car designer specializing in aerodynamics. But I sure his math has fallen into your superior trap. Should I roll my eyes now or latter? LOL.

              Rally cars rarely top 100 mph, and yet feature prominent wings and other aero devices

              Your own statement indicates you've missed the boat. The wings on rally cars are prominent and they normally lift them higher so as to move them INTO the slip
            • by LakeSolon (699033) *
              dammit. "Use 'em or lose 'em" indeed! My mod points had to disappear just before I read this post.

              As the saying goes: Mod Parent Up.
          • by RMH101 (636144)
            I had a 1990 VW Corrado with a small active spoiler on the rear that activated at around 65mph. At 70, from memory, VW claimed 80lbs downforce. Sure, it's not *massive*, but it's there. It's not only useful if it delivers 1000's of lbs of downforce - a little, over the rear wheels, can make a difference. See http://forums.mwerks.com/zerothread?id=3792800&page=2 [mwerks.com] for a short technical summary specific to the Corrado. On mine, I noticed the car felt a lot more planted at triple-figure speeds with the w
            • by GooberToo (74388)
              Something to keep in mind is that most cars produce a lifting body action because of the shape of their under carriage. At really high speeds, this is often enough to cause problems ranging from minor loss of steering to flipping a vehicle.

              If you will allow me to *play* with some *imaginary* numbers, let's say the upward force, from the lifting action is 200lbs and the downward force on the rear is 100lbs. You are still at a net loss of 100lbs. Worse, while traction may be improved, it likely further reduce
      • Jimmy Franklin [wikipedia.org] mounted an engine from a jet fighter/trainer under the fuselage of his Waco biplane. It was an incredible thing to see flying, something that was so powerfully implausible it just made you sort of giggle.

        It was even more amazing as part of the Masters of Disaster [wikipedia.org] airshow routine, which was quite possibly the coolest thing I have ever seen (@ Oshkosh, in '04 IIRC). That they lost several people in just a few short years is testimony to the risk-taking feats that they were performing. That the
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:01PM (#23073546) Homepage
    The aircraft are based off the Velocity, a popular homebuilt aircraft. Usually pushed by a prop, these planes are pretty flexible, as this novel use indicates.

    There are other canard aircraft that have flown under interesting power. The LongEZ and Cozy have been built with everything from aircraft gasoline engines to jets to wankel rotaries, even rockets. Experimental aviation is the fastest developing part of general aviation, and anyone with the right commitment and willingness to learn can build a plane too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'll assume that the DIY aircraft kit also has a DIY hospital kit too..

      Today's lesson: Howto build a self anesthesia surgery setup

      Tomorrow: Self post-op care
      • Wow.. this just got more interesting.. I had thought it was all about model aircraft until your post :) I can definitely see the fun in full sized aerobatic aircraft racing, though I'd probably still enjoy rally driving a lot more, unless someone figures out how to do handbrake turns in a plane (the one in Hotshots doesn't count :p )
        • by skarphace (812333)

          ... unless someone figures out how to do handbrake turns in a plane (the one in Hotshots doesn't count :p )

          This is actually possible, atleast with a prop-plane. In that History Channel show 'Dogfights' I remember them featuring one guy who used it in battle.

          Basically, you roll the plane to the side a little, and nail the rudder in the same direction. This will put the under belly against the direction of wind resistance which will slow you down pretty damn fast. Then you nose down to pick up speed and return to normal flight. Pretty slick move if you ask me.

        • by FleaPlus (6935)
          I can definitely see the fun in full sized aerobatic aircraft racing, though I'd probably still enjoy rally driving a lot more, unless someone figures out how to do handbrake turns in a plane

          Something similar might actually be feasible with the rocketplanes... I know Armadillo Aerospace (one of the engine providers for the Rocket Racing League) has been working with redirecting the rocket nozzle exhaust to control flight. It would be neat if you could redirect the exhaust to the side to rapidly rotate the r
    • by evanbd (210358) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:51PM (#23073840)

      As I'm sure you're aware, XCOR Aerospace [xcor.com] built both the EZ-Rocket (rocket-powered LongEZ) and the first of the Rocket Racers.

      They've been mentioned here recently [slashdot.org] for the upcoming Lynx spaceplane, as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DigiShaman (671371)
      Experimental aviation is the fastest developing part of general aviation, and anyone with the right commitment and willingness to learn can build a plane too.

      I'm curious to know how that's possible. Last I heard, the FAA (in the US at least) have very tight regulations and certification requirements. It can take years and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars just to break through all the legal red tape. In fact, I hear these expenditures dwarf that of R&D and material costs combined for a
      • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @12:25AM (#23073994)
        Thats actually the reason why the home-builts and experimentals are so popular. It takes a lot of work to make a new factory-built plane with all the new FAA regulations, thus why you don't see that many new Cessnas around.

        However, if you just sell the parts and have the customer build it themselves, and attach a big 'EXPERIMENTAL' tag to the outside those regulations don't apply. Not that I'm arguing that this makes much sense, but from what I understand thats the situation.

        (I don't have much firsthand knowledge, I just read up on this a lot a couple of years ago.)
        • by biggles69 (110392) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @01:49AM (#23074364)
          I have a lot of experience with home-built/experimental aviation. Generally the aircraft built by enthusiasts from either raw materials and a set of plans or a kit are better quality and built to a much higher standard of finish than the crap Cessna, Piper and the other big commercial manufacturers put out. Light experimental aircraft had glass cockpits 10+ years ago using non certified equipment that is just as good as the over priced certified equipment just getting into factory built aircraft now. The performance is also generally much better and the cost much lower partly because the product liability insurance premium on a new factory built aircraft is something like $50,000.

          FAA certification really isn't that onerous. The real reason little innovation goes on with factory built aircraft is liability. The companies play it safe by sticking with the tech they have and making cosmetic changes. Unfortunately the tech they have was mostly developed in the 50's.

          Vans aircraft is a pretty typical kit builder and over 5000 of their kits are completed and flying. It's not much compared to the big companies but when you consider that each one was built by the owner in his/her garage, living room or basement (people build planes in all sorts of places and sometimes have to knock out walls to get them out) then this is pretty damned impressive.

          The experimental system actually makes a whole lot of sense if you want to foster innovation and are willing to let people take responsibility for their own actions. Shit it felt strange typing that in today's fucked up litigation mentality world. The aircraft are subject to FAA inspections throughout the assembly/construction process and have to fly off 40 hours in a restricted zone around a specific airport to prove they are safe but after that they can go anywhere. The only absolute prohibition on the use of experimental aircraft is in commercial operations. They are for private non profit use only. Aussie Jon Johanson flew his Vans RV-4 round the world twice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vans_RV-4 [wikipedia.org].
          • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @07:01AM (#23075694) Homepage Journal

            people build planes in all sorts of places and sometimes have to knock out walls to get them out
            I for one would certainly feel safe in a vehicle built and flown by someone who didn't realise that an airplane is generally bigger than a doorway ;)
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by GooberToo (74388)
              I for one would certainly feel safe in a vehicle built and flown by someone who didn't realise that an airplane is generally bigger than a doorway

              I know you're joking but the reason for this is because people often take a decade to build their plane. This means they build it in their garage. Otherwise, they'd be paying for a very expensive hangar at an airport for the entire build. While that likely means they would build it faster, it also means it would be a second jobs rather than a labor of love.

              Even af
            • by capnkr (1153623) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @08:37AM (#23076550)
              Funny, somersault, I'll relay the comment. :)

              For general consumption, though: My brother is building an RV-7A in his perhaps 10'x18' shop out in the garage, which itself is not large enough to hold the completed airplane. He started it in a 10'x15' miniwarehouse. He is building it in stages; tail kit first, wings nearly finished, and the fuselage kit is staged for his next step in the process. Eventually he'll load the completed parts on to a trailer, haul it to a hangar at the airport for final assembly before getting it checked over by an FAA inspector and the first flight.

              It was surprising to me how little space it takes.
          • Lots of interesting information in the parent's post, worthy to be shared with everyone.
            Please mod it up ~
          • by GooberToo (74388)
            FAA certification really isn't that onerous.

            I believe most will disagree with you. It is directly because of the FAA that awesome airplanes like the Starship have been relegated to bone yards. The FAA is the source of much stupidity and significant expense for general aviation. The FAA is largely the reason much of general aviation is still flying with circa-1950s technology. They are also the second largest reason improved products are slowly introduced to the general aviation community.

            Lawyers are the re
          • by Anonymous Coward
            I am a pilot, and currently own a Piper Cherokee 140 [airport-data.com]. I have many friends who own RV-4's [swrfi.org], RV-6's [barnstormers.com] and at my local airport two groups of people are presently building an RV-8 [vansaircraft.com] and an RV-10 [vansaircraft.com].

            I have just bought the plans for an RV-7 myself, and hope to have it completed and flying within 4 years.

            I'll be at Oshkosh this year to see the Rocket Racers up close and personal.

            If you have any interest in aviation at all, you need to come to Oshkosh, WI [airventure.org] yourself, the last week in July of this year. It's a fantastic ex
      • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @08:27AM (#23076438)
        I'm curious to know how that's possible. Last I heard, the FAA (in the US at least) have very tight regulations and certification requirements.

        That's the magic word, "certification". Experimental aircraft are just that...and they are not certified. This does not necessarily mean they are dangerous. The words, "experimental" must be visibly placard and all passengers must be notified of aircraft's experimental status.

        It can take years and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars just to break through all the legal red tape. In fact, I hear these expenditures dwarf that of R&D and material costs combined for a small company. Let's not forget that it also takes years just to pass certification on new designs.

        And that is exactly why certified generation aviation is so far behind modern technology. This is also why an engine designed in the 1950s or perhaps the 1960s costs $25,000 - $75,000 to replace. If it were not for the FAA's certification process and scummy lawyers in general who literally double the cost of all things aviation related, that same engine would cost $10,000 - $30,000 and be far more safe and reliable. And keep in mind, with these engines, the pilot must still manually control basic things like air/fuel mixture. Heck, just fuel injection is still considered a big step up in economy and performance. If you want electronic control (FADEC), expect to add an extra $40,000 - $80,000 to the cost of your engine; if it is even available for your engine/aircraft combination.

        Once you step outside of the certified arena, suddenly a whole new gambit of newer, better, and safer level of modern technology becomes available. Yet the vast majority of this technology is strictly prohibited in a certified aircraft.

        As an example, thanks to the FAA, instrument rated aircraft must purchase certified clocks. This made sense forty years ago when reliable, electro-mechanical clocks were hard to find. These days, $100-$400 dollars buys you a clock which may lose seconds to minutes in a day, assuming it stays running for the entire flight. Yes, that very expensive and unreliable clock the FAA requires is actually less reliable and less accurate than the average, cheap watch people wear today. Yet, non-certified aircraft get the pleasure of a modern, highly reliable, highly precise clock for $20-$100; depending on the number of cool extras (timers, count down/up) thrown in. And if you wonder how important a clock is, watch "Hunt for Red October" and take note of them maneuvering the sub by stop-watch. It is the same for planes flying by instruments.

        Don't forget, the FAA's moto is, "We're not happy until you're not happy." Even worse is, in the last decade, the FAA was been working hard to actually endanger the skies (recent inspections in the news is the tip of the iceberg) rather than actually improve public safety. The FAA is working hard to avoid Congressional oversight would allows them to publicly be seen in bed with the airlines. For the last decade, they've been forced to meet in cheap motel rooms.

        If it were not for inspectors breaking the news, the public would have continued to fly un-inspected and dangerous aircraft, with the FAA's unofficial wink and nod.

        Lastly, don't think that plane owners are rich, wealthy men with top hats and cigars. The majority of pilots make less than $40,000 a year. You can actually own a nice, certified plane, for less than the price of a new SUV or less. Granted, this will be a used aircraft, but it is important to remember, aircraft are maintained far better than cars and in most cases, better than homes. The older aircraft fleet's safety record is on par with newer aircraft.
  • thing is.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by type40 (310531)
    this is not really exciting for an average year at Oshkosh.
    I saw 17 P-51's sitting idling waiting for clearance to taxi. I was 20 feet away from Chuck Yeagers P-51 as it sat mid pack (flock?, fight?).
    I saw a Long-EZ with a pulse jet a couple of years ago.
    rocket planes....boring.
    • wait until rocket planes start crashing head butt into audience.
      • The EAA has rules about flying over the audience at AirVenture.
        The rule is no, no, fuck no.
        They have a pilot crash during the daily air show almost every year.
        The EAA knows better than anyone that even when you have the best pilots flying the best planes, shit can happen.
        So it's audience, safety margin, runway, air show performers.
        It's the best air show on the planet. Ever.

        vertical drags, that's so for n00bs.
        I was at Oshkosh when pushy galore set a time to climb record. An aircraft powered by a Continental
  • Or are you just happy to see me?
  • *groan* (Score:4, Funny)

    by The Ancients (626689) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:08PM (#23073586) Homepage

    It seems the league is finally ready to get off the ground.

    That was really, really, bad. Even for a /. summary.

    • It was never made clear what the rockets will be driving in the race. But the sharks with lasers will send down lightning bolts from the previous story and fix the race anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.
  • I've been wrong about this type of stuff before. A few years ago before LOTR was released, I made the assertion that only geeks would be interested in a movie about D&D characters. I predicted that for all the eye candy, the story wouldn't resonate with the average movie audience and that a lot of money was being spent on creating a huge movie with a small target audience.

    Well, looking back on it now, I can say that I was totally wrong. Plenty of people are fascinated by pewter goblets and 20-sided dice
  • *Cue Mute City Theme from F-Zero.
  • Race you to the moon and back!!
  • by Theatetus (521747) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:42PM (#23073792) Journal
    Patience, people, the gene pool will weed you out on its own.
    • by IdeaMan (216340)
      That's right, all the hawt chicks go after the wealthy dashing adventurous types. All us introverted couch potatoes will be weeded out eventually.
  • This is great and all, but I can't help thinking that it's the modern Jazz of racing: Interesting to see once in a while, but the real fun is only there for the performers.
    To put it another way, this is mostly a highly publicized rich kid's hobby. I guess the rich kids enjoy it more if they can get the great unwashed masses to watch in awe. Not that there's anything particularly bad or unusual about all that, but don't expect it to be the amazing spectacle promised. The promotional videos show smooth-flyin
  • I just found the coolest design to turn into a rocket plane! This is actually good for amateurs because the engine technology that comes out of this might be usable by homebuilders some day. The Long EZ could be soo much cooler if the fuselage was shaped different, I mean it already has a really small cross section (equivalent to a standard sheet of paper, is what I once read in "Composites for homebuilt aircraft"), but it could be smaller! Clearly this is just for the advancement of the engine side of th
  • You know, I live just far enough away from Oshkosh (coupld miles) to not worry too much when I hear a plane fly by every 5 minutes during the EAA airventure event but now if something goes wrong, I think a rocket engine could reach me :( and a couple nights ago I seriously had a dream that a massive plane crashed near my backyard after trying to do a move that often stalls them and CNN stopped by and we made all the cameramen homemade salsa. Coincidence? I think so lol. But still, there have been crashes
    • by FleaPlus (6935)

      You know, I live just far enough away from Oshkosh (coupld miles) to not worry too much when I hear a plane fly by every 5 minutes during the EAA airventure event but now if something goes wrong, I think a rocket engine could reach me :(
      I wouldn't be too worried -- the max speed of these aircraft is 200-300mph. I think what sets them apart is their ability to accelerate, but the max velocity is similar to jet-powered aircraft with the same sort of airframe.
  • this will really just be slow airplanes flying circles in the sky? Can anyone see this actually succeed?
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @02:38AM (#23074558) Journal
    The summary mentions the article but doesn't seem to actually link to it. I think it's referring to this one [wired.com].

    Here's the summary I submitted earlier, which includes a link to a different (IMHO more informative) article, mentions the surprise involvement of Armadillo Aerospace (John Carmack's company), and a liveblogging of the press conference:

    Armadillo Aerospace Building Racing Rocket Engines

    The Rocket Racing League made several announcements today [msn.com], including a partnership with Armadillo Aerospace, the rocketry company run by game programming demigod John Carmack. The first exhibition races will be at the EAA AirVenture air show in early August, where League rocketplanes using engines produced by both XCOR and Armadillo will fly. The RRL hopes that the rocketplanes will be a testbed for new technologies [hobbyspace.com] which will feed into the wider aviation and aerospace market.
    There's also a pretty spiffy photo showing Armadillo's rocket firing [armadilloaerospace.com]

  • Enough said in the subject, really...
  • Next time you fly commecially, and look at the engines, you may wonder why that plane is not powered by a rocket also. The answer is quite simple: A rocket engine is incredible inefficient, and has absolutely no advantages over a jet or prop other than that it can operate in vacuum. Also in vacuum, you do not need wings.
    A rocket powered plane is therefore almost an oxymoron.
    So this sounds like an idea that is not very likely to take off.
    • by v1 (525388)
      But besides operating in a vacuum, they also have a much higher impulse? (correct terminology?) So if you want to drag-race, (fastest to hit mach 2, etc) shouldn't you be able to beat out a jet or any other technology with a rocket?

      The question I have is won't they quickly hit the human limit? People can take what, 9G's of continuous acceleration? Once you hit that it doesn't matter how much you can improve on your design if it's going to kill the pilot or is at least guaranteed to black them out.


      • If they can work out the bugs, immersing the pilot in some sort of oxygenated Perflourocarbon [wikipedia.org] would enable then to withstand far higher G's. Right now it's still the realm of Sci Fi but it's quite possible.
      • by GooberToo (74388)
        they also have a much higher impulse?

        That's correct. You'd be amazed how slowly a jet engine takes to spin back up. To go from idle to full throttle can take several seconds and then the aircraft still requires time to accelerate. A rocket engine allows for idle to full throttle almost instantaneously. Jet engines basically suffer from a kind of "turbo lag." [wikipedia.org]

        So not only can a rocket engine produce more thrust for its size, it can also produce that thrust much more quickly.

        People can take what, 9G's of contin
  • Except the 4 stroke engine no longer needs development. A few car manufacturers should join this league.
  • Am I missing something? What happens when some guy lights up right in front of you? Hey this is actually sounding watchable, like a gameshow from the near future in some Steven King novel.
    • by IdeaMan (216340)
      Jay Leno says that when someone comes to a stop too close to his bike at a stop light, all he he would have to do is rev his turbine engine powered motorcycle a bit to melt their bumper.
  • Old School winner! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lost Penguin (636359)
    Rocket racing was old school, it went out in the 60s.Turboniques? [easynet.be]
  • Wow, it's like the old PSX game "N-Gen Racing" come to life. (Though that was jet racing)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSN5YFZG-hg [youtube.com]

"Love may fail, but courtesy will previal." -- A Kurt Vonnegut fan