Plowboy Interview: Donald Cooksey on the NASA Wind Generation Project

A Plowboy Interview with Donald Cooksey, the site project engineer for the NASA wind turbine generator project in Sandusky, Ohio.

| May/June 1976

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    The NASA Wind Turbine Generator
  • 039-006-01-Turbine-Diagram
    Wind Turbine Tower
  • 039-006-01-Turbine-Diagram2
    Wind Turbine housing detail

  • 039-006-01-Wind-Turbine
  • 039-006-01-Turbine-Diagram
  • 039-006-01-Turbine-Diagram2

This magazine has spent a lot of time during the past six and a half years talking about, and to, do-it-yourselfers. People who — with little money, less experience, and (sometimes) no one at all to guide them — have plunged right into the construction and operation of their own homestead, little business, or alternative energy system.  

And we don't apologize for that at all. Because it always has been (and probably always will be) the "little people" who set the trends that the politicians and the "leaders" and the bureaucrats and big business and big labor later discover and cash in on. This publication was originally designed to foster the interests of "little people" and the planet ... and we see no reason to change that goal now.  

On the other hand, it's no secret that the "big boys" are discovering the back-to-basics, live-better-for-less, preserve-the-planet, recycle-it-or-do-without ideas that us little people have been living for so long. Big labor now spends a lot of time worrying about the environment. Big business has began to see the wisdom of phasing out aerosol cans, new models every year, and shoddy merchandise of all kinds ... in favor of appliances that use markedly less energy, solar collectors, and quality products that last forever. And every politician in the world, it seems, has developed (at least when talking to us) a sudden interest in organic gardening, saving the bald eagle, and funding at least one "alternative" energy project.  

Which brings us to the subject of this interview. Because, believe it or not, NASA — the agency that sends men to the moon and rocket probes to Mars—is now seriously experimenting with (are you ready for this?) ... windplants. And some of those experiments are even being funded by half of what used to be the Atomic Energy Commission! (And it was only four or five years ago that those same guys were laughing at the "freaks" — us! — who foolishly thought that windplants and waterwheels might still have a few practical applications.)  

Well, what the heck. "Live and Learn," we always say. And the so-called "establishment" is certainly learning. Then again, maybe we have a little to learn too. Because, given the chance, those guys with the slide rules and the big government funds can do some work that even has a certain interest for us little guys too. (At least it's more fun watching our government build windplants than it is watching it develop ever-stronger poisons and ever-bigger bombs.)  

Jack Bender recently visited NASA's Plumb Brook Station at Sandusky, Ohio, where the currently "world's biggest" windplant is just going into operation. There he talked to Donald Cooksey, Site Project Engineer for NASA's Wind Turbine Generator (WTG) Project. And found Mr. Cooksey to be a warm and a human and a concerned Good Guy.  


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