ASME-Landmark:Ames Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel


The discovery of Germany's advanced wind tunnel facilities after World War II, in conjunction with its leadership in the research and development of rocket engines, jet engines, and supersonic guided missiles, posed a serious challenge to America's national security, prompting the United States Congress to pass the Unitary Wind Tunnel Plan Act of 1949.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA's predecessor) began construction on the 8-by-8-foot segment of the wind tunnel complex at Moffet Federal Airfield in 1950, and the complex began operating in 1956. The three-testing-section configuration covers Mach number .03-3.5 and uses a single common drive and two compressors.

The Ames Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel has contributed to America's preeminence in the jet age, both in commercial and military aviation testing models from the Douglas DC-8 to modern-day commercial transports. These tests include cruise performance, lateral and longitudinal stability, structural loads, and aeroelastic and dynamic load measurements.

The Ames facility also played a heavy role in the United States space program, performing aerodynamic testing on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecrafts and the space shuttle. The tunnel continued to contribute to maintaining excellence in aeronautics, testing configurations of the High Speed Civil Transport, Advanced Subsonic Transport, and military configurations.

The Unitary-Plan Wind Tunnel sometimes conducts restricted access tests. However, tours of the Ames Research Center are available through the public affairs office. The wind tunnel is included on the tour itinerary. See ASME website for more information