King Air airplane in background with King Air Research Aircraft: Atmospheric Science

Facility History


The Department of Atmospheric Science has been active in airborne atmospheric research for over 50 years, operating three aircraft over this time period with plans to acquire a fourth in the near future. A Twin Beech (C-45) was acquired in 1965 and was the first that the Department used for this mission. The aircraft was retired in the early 1970s.

A Beech Queen Air was acquired in 1971. The Queen Air was in operation for 10 years.

The facility's primary research aircraft (N2UW) is a Beech King Air 200T, newly purchased in 1977 and undergoing structural modifications allowing it to carry out a wide variety of weather research goals. This aircraft was initially supported through funds from the US Bureau of Reclamation, but since 1987 has been supported by a series of cooperative agreements between the University of Wyoming and the National Science Foundation.

Since 1977, N2UW’s evolving capability to support many different types of research instrumentation have allowed it to be used in a wide range of studies, involving cloud physics, weather modification, air chemistry, and boundary layer studies, as well as serving as a platform for instrument development and testing. It has also been involved in numerous education-oriented projects, both in Laramie and in association with other universities around the country. A summary of its use as a national research facility may be viewed, with a detailed list of recent projects here.

Following its deployment in the 2022 component of the TRANS2Am project, N2UW was retired as a weather research platform. The University of Wyoming is proceeding with plans to acquire and customize a newer King Air 350. This new aircraft will provide improved operational capabilities, allowing the facility to continue to support evolving weather research needs for many more years to come. More information on the acquisition and upgrade of this new aircraft can be found here.


Twin Beech aircraft

Our first research aircraft, the Twin Beech

Beech Queen Airplane in front of hanger

Our second research aircraft, the Beech Queen Air

Beech King Air plane

The Beech King Air N2UW

N2UW airplane flying

N2UW in its current paint design, in use since 2005