50 years of research using Langley Subsonic Wind Tunnel

Dec. 11, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Langley Research Center’s 14×22-foot Subsonic Wind Tunnel.

The facility is used to assess aerodynamic performance of aircraft over a wide range of takeoff, landing, cruise, and high angle-of-attack conditions. It can provide acoustic, tethered free-flight, and forced-oscillation testing, motorsports research, aerodynamic material design studies and more.



The tunnel has been used by aircraft manufacturers, defense industry partners, the Department of Defense, and other government organizations. NASA projects have included researchers working space, science, exploration, and aeronautics programs in the continuing endeavor to achieve our NASA mission.

In this photo, engineers led by researcher Greg Gatlin have sprayed fluorescent oil on a 5.8 percent scale model of a futuristic hybrid wing body during tests in the tunnel. The oil helps researchers “see” the flow patterns when air passes over and around the model. Those patterns are important in determining crucial aircraft characteristics such as lift and drag.

Image Credit: NASA Langley/Preston Martin

Editor: Yvette Smith