A free-flight wind tunnel for aerodynamic testing at hypersonic speeds

Alvin Seiff

The supersonic free-flight wind tunnel is a facility at the Ames Laboratory of the NACA in which aerodynamic test models are gun-launched at high speed and directed upstream through the test section of a supersonic wind tunnel. In this way, test Mach numbers up to 10 have been attained and indications are that still higher speeds will be realized. An advantage of this technique is that the air and model temperatures simulate those of flight through the atmosphere. Also the Reynolds numbers are high. Aerodynamic measurements are made from photographic observation of the model flight. Instruments and techniques have been developed for measuring the following aerodynamic properties: drag, initial lift-curve slope, initial pitching-moment-curve slope, center of pressure, skin friction, boundary-layer transition, damping in roll, and aileron effectiveness.

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