NSF/NCAR C-130 taking off in Colorado.

Research Aircraft

The NSF/NCAR HIAPER and the NSF/NCAR C-130 are housed and managed at EOL's Research Aviation Facility (RAF) located at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC). EOL is also involved in the University of Wyoming King Air request process, managed by the University of Wyoming. 

Several U.S. federal agencies besides the NSF operate research aircraft, which may be available for atmospheric studies. While those aircraft are not part of the NSF aircraft fleet, NSF may consider funding flight hours on these aircraft in support of NSF-funded research. For more information, contact Dr. Shree Mishra (sumishra@nsf.gov) at NSF.

Requestable Research Aircraft


The High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) research aircraft is a Gulfstream V (GV) business jet that has been highly modified for research has unique capabilities that set it apart from other research aircraft. It can reach 49,000 feet (15,000 meters), enabling scientists to collect data at the tops of storms and the lower edge of the stratosphere. With a range of about 7,000 miles (11,265 kilometers), it can track atmospheric particles across the oceans or reach the South Pole from bases in South America or New Zealand.


The NSF/NCAR C-130 is a versatile and capable research platform that carries a wide variety of scientific payloads. The C-130 has a 10-hour flight endurance, a 2,900 nautical mile range at up to 27,000 ft, and a payload capacity of 13,000 lbs. In addition to standard thermodynamic, microphysics and radiation sensors, the C-130 has a roomy fuselage payload area and many versatile inlets and optical ports. The C-130 can carry advanced EOL and community instrumentation.

University of Wyoming King Air (UWKA)

The University of Wyoming’s Beechcraft King Air 200T (UWKA) is a twin-engine turbo-prop aircraft instrumented to support various research missions, notably in cloud physics and boundary layer processes. In service since 1977, the aircraft is operated by the Donald L. Veal Research Flight Center within the UWyo Department of Atmospheric Science.