Advocate Seeks Reprieve For Historic Wind Tunnel

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NASA's Langley Full Scale Wind Tunnel (LFST), in Hampton, Va., is scheduled to be shut down and demolished later this month, and Ken Hyde, president of The Wright Experience, thinks that would be a mistake. Hyde and his team used the tunnel to help create a reproduction of the first Wright Flyer for the Centennial of Flight, and he thinks it has a lot of useful life ahead. "The tunnel can still provide us with invaluable research and information, especially in areas of national importance like energy independence," he wrote to AVweb last week. The tunnel recently has been used to test trucks, resulting in design changes and fuel savings of up to 20 percent. "The LFST is costing taxpayers no money to keep in existence; however, its destruction is costing every taxpayer money. ... [It] holds a unique place in our country's past, but its most valuable contributions to our country are yet to come, but only if we can find a way to keep the tunnel open," said Hyde. The wind tunnel is currently being operated by Old Dominion University, but their lease runs out on Aug. 18, and NASA plans to close down and demolish the aging structure, according to Hyde. It is currently being used for research on blended-wing structures.

Hyde said he believes the wind tunnel could operate for another decade or more if only modest investments were made to protect the facility from occasional flooding. "Urgent help is needed to help preserve this National Historic Landmark," he said.