oa CSIR Science Scope - Wind-tunnel balances essential for accurate data
Major strides towards man's first powered flight were made between 1871, when the first wind tunnel was built and 1903, when the Wright brothers made their first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. These developments were made possible largely by knowledge gained from wind-tunnel testing. Even today, with parallel processing computers making in excess of 15 000 processors available, the use of computer modelling is still limited, particularly in modelling of phenomena that occur during the change from subsonic to supersonic speeds (i.e. in the speed ranges where one changes from slower than the speed of sound to faster than the speed of sound). At these speed ranges, a fuzzy region exists where parts of the flight vehicle may experience subsonic and other parts experience supersonic conditions. This is referred to as the transonic region and is the primary test area for which the medium-speed wind tunnel at the CSIR was built.
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