James Schalkwyk
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Scott Waltermire
Dec. 11, 2012
NASA Ames Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Largest Wind Tunnel
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Today, NASA celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of the largest and most distinctive structures in California’s Silicon Valley: the iconic National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) located at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Dedicated Dec. 11, 1987, the NFAC houses two test sections: an 80-foot-by-120-foot test section capable of testing a full-size 737 airplane, and a 40-foot-by-80-foot test section – the largest and second largest wind tunnels in the world.

"This anniversary represents a milestone in providing a quarter century of aeronautical technology to the DOD, NASA, and U.S. industry – to the nation," said Ames Center Director S. Pete Worden.

During a ceremony today at Ames, NASA officials unveiled a plaque re-dedicating the unique facility. The NFAC currently is operated by the US Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC). Representatives from the military, as well as NASA, spoke at today’s ceremony.

“For the past 25 years, the NFAC has supported and is continually engaged in an active research program to conduct aerodynamic and acoustic noise testing on large or full-scale aircraft, spacecraft, rotorcraft and their components,” said Scott Waltermire of the AEDC and the new NFAC site director.

For more than 100 years, wind tunnels have been used to test models of various aircraft as they would appear in flight by moving air past them while stationary. The results are similar as if the object were speeding through the air.

The sheer size of its test sections makes the NFAC unique. Almost every major commercial U.S. aircraft built in the past quarter century has been tested in it.

“The NFAC is a national facility, necessary for the nation to maintain its ability to develop aeronautical technologies to ensure that our armed forces can meet any challenge, now and in the future,” said Bill Warmbrodt, chief of the Ames Aeromechanics Branch, who conducted his first test in the 40-foot-by-80-foot tunnel in 1980.

For more information about the NFAC, visit:

For more information about wind tunnels at NASA Ames, visit:

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