Wind Tunnel at Aviation Academy

Aviation Academy Wind TunnelOur wind tunnel was designed to NASA standards and quality, built by NASA contractors, using NASA's data acquisition quality. In other words, our low-speed tunnel is of the highest quality, making it the world’s best for a high school and better then most colleges.

The Wind Project: "Bridge To Success" is the result of the support of the Virginia Business-Education Partnership, via a School-To-Work Grant. The original goal of the project was to enhance and support the Aviation and Physics classes. A construction goal was to allow, as much as possible, participation by students in its development. Standards Of Learning are integrated into the curriculum. Students have had field trips to NASA, ODU, and VigYan wind tunnels. Our project objectives were:

  • Aviation Academy students will research and work on science projects.
  • Students will operate the wind tunnel.
  • Provide students with technology that engineers use on a daily basis.
  • Incorporate more STEM related topics into Aviation and core subjects.

Coordination with other sites will be accomplished via the Internet in real-time video and audio along with data distribution. This will allow the distribution of knowledge to other Newport News Public Schools sites, the Peninsula, and the Hampton Roads area.

Wind Tunnel Design

Mr. Arthur Phelps, a retired aeronautical engineer from NASA, designed the wind tunnel in sections so it could fit in the former space with the dimensions of 9’ x 11’ x30’.  Keeping safety paramount, the drive system had the shaft enclosed where the test section is ½” Lexan to prevent negative pressure collapse.

Key Components

  • Inlet: Built by Dynamic Engineering, Inc. - The double-curved laminate structure was built in five sections - honeycomb w/frame, two sides, top and bottom. The composite materials were custom constructed under the guidance of Dave Copeland.
  • Test Section: Built by Bill Reed - The Lexan material was purchased and the section built in Bill's garage. Custom crafting of the door and the model entry disk w/extras for preparation of future model testing. An important element is the smooth finish of the interior to reduce drag on the walls which drops the size of the boundary layer.
  • Diffuser: Built by students - Starting in the summer of 1999, students volunteered to help construct the Mitsubishi panels. Mitsubishi Chemical Division donated this Apolitic composite layered material. Apolitic is fabricated in the Chesapeake, VA facility and is extremely strong, generally used for building exterior finishes which require strength and polish. Besides strength, replacing plywood, the interior is very smooth which reduces the boundary layer. The students placed 850 pop rivets and 850 screws to attach the sides to corner supports.
  • Transition Section: Built by Advex - The transition pieces were bent by Peninsula Sheet metal. The angles were rolled by Cushing Manufacturing of Richmond, VA. Then Advex assembled and Mig welded the pieces into one piece. The painting was done by Coxton's Auto Body.
  • Containment Ring: Built by Advex - The 1/2" thick 4 ft. diameter ring was rolled by Machine Service of Richmond, VA. Then Advex mig welded the piece together. The painting was done by Coxton's Auto Body.
  • Drive System: Built by Eagle Aviation
  • Drive Support: Built by Plant Services of NNPS
  • Data Acquisition: Built by VigYan, Inc
  • Model Movement Mechanism: ATI
  • Balance/sting: NASA
  • Pitot and Alpha (Angle of Attach Mechanism) by ViGYAN - 2013

Business Partners

  • SME Education Foundation - $19,000
  • Arconic Foundation - $58,000
  • NASCENT Technology Solutions - $13,000 (Chris Domack- President, Business Partner)
  • Presctec, Inc. - $10,000 (Dr. Art Phelps- President)
  • VIGYAN, Inc. - $30,000 (Richard White- Vice President)
  • Eagle Aviation Inc. - $5,000 (Emit Wallace- President)
  • Dynamics Engineering, Inc. - $30,000 (David Copeland- Model Supervisor)
  • Richmond Steel, Inc. - $2,000 (Tim Hund- Vice President)
  • Advex, Inc. - $6,000 (Ronald Swain- President)
  • Mitsubishi Chemical, Inc. - $3,000 (Sugaya Mikihiko- General Manager)
  • Peninsula Sheet Metal - $1,000 (Marvin Rieck- President)
  • Service Machine & Welding - $500 (Bill Small- Principal)
  • Cushing Manufacting, Inc. - $500 (Ross Jennings, III)
  • Old Dominion University - $1,000 (Dr. Colin Britcher)
  • Mr. Bill Reed: Retired NASA Engineer - $500
  • NASA - $65,000 (Ray Rhew- Instrumentation Gp.)
  • Virginia Business:Education Partnership - $11,000 (Ronald Hedlund- Executive Director)