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Welcome to the Beginner's Guide to Wind Tunnels
Computer picture of a wind tunnel
What is a wind tunnel? How do aerospace engineers use wind tunnels? A wind tunnel is a machine which can simulate the movement of air around an aircraft in flight. In the wind tunnel, the aeronautical engineer can control the conditions that effect the forces and motion of the aircraft. By making careful measurements of the forces on a model of the aircraft. the engineer can determine the magnitude of the forces on the real, full-size aircraft. The wind tunnel model can also be used for diagnostics to make a detailed determination of how the air moves around or through the aircraft.

At this Web site you can study wind tunnels at your own pace and to your own level of interest. Some of the topics included are: history of wind tunnels; design and operation of wind tunnels; construction of wind tunnels; instrumentation and models; and the underlying similarity principles that enable wind tunnel testing. Many of these principles are related to the fundamental study of aerodynamics. The student should consult our Beginner's Guide to aerodynamics, propulsion, and model rockets for a further appreciation of of the use of the data obtained during wind tunnel testing.

This site was prepared at NASA Glenn by the Education Programs Office to provide background information on wind tunnels as teaching aids for math and science teachers. Interactive educational computer programs that allow students to explore the various aspects of wind tunnel testing and design are provided at this web site. Several Power Point Presentations on Wind Tunnels have been developed for teachers and students.

This site has been intentionally organized to mirror the unstructured nature of the world wide web. There are many pages here connected to one another through hyperlinks and you can then navigate through the links based on your own interest and inquiry. There is an index of topics that you can access from any page, so you are never more than two clicks away from any other Web page at this site.

NOTICE --- The site has been developed to support Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Many of the pages contain mathematical equations which have been produced graphically and which are too long or complex to provide in an "ALT" tag. For these pages, we have retained the non-compliant graphic at the top of the page and have provided a compliant text version of the equations in the body of the page. In many cases, because of the use of Greek fonts in the graphics, the purely English text version of the equations is slightly different than the graphic version. The differences are noted in the text.

Build Your Own Wind Tunnel

Beginner's Guide Home Page
Beginner's Guide to Propulsion
Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics
Beginner's Guide to Model Rockets
Free Software
Aerospace Resources


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Editor: Nancy Hall
NASA Official: Nancy Hall
Last Updated: May 13 2021

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