You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NASA’s Sigma lecturer talks accomplishments on the 50th anniversary of the 14-by-22 subsonic tunnel

Daily Press logo Daily Press 11/27/2020 Lisa Vernon Sparks, The Daily Press

Turns out, anything that encounters wind -- from smokestacks to NASCAR cars -- can be tested in a wind tunnel, says P. Frank Quinto, its facilities manager.

And since revving up in 1970, the subsonic tunnel, considered a low-speed facility that can hit a maximum 235 miles per hour, has cranked out 650 tests.

With the 50th anniversary of its construction blowing in next month, Quinto will share why it was built, its unique design, the major events and tests and future missions, next month during NASA Langley Research Center’s monthly Sigma lecture series taking place Dec. 8.

Due to the pandemic, Langley is closed to visitors. Instead of an open house, the research center will live stream the lecture for free.

“It’s tough to compress 50 years and 650 tests into 50 minutes,” Quinto says. “Which tests do you highlight? Which ones made a difference? Which one was unique?”

There was the time the wind tunnel was used to test what was the proper height of a smokestack at a Hampton trash burning facility that sent wind-blow ash and soot over to the center and gantry. The facility built sometime in the late 1970s had a 90-feet chimney. The group created a scale model of the facility and placed it in the wind tunnel.

“We didn’t want the particulates raining on the research area,” Quinto said. “We were trying to figure out how high to raise the smokestacks ... and settled on 250 feet as the optimal height.”

Quinto has worked for four decades at NASA since graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in aerospace and ocean engineering. Throughout his career, Quinto has rotated in research, operations, as a facility manager, and has worked as a volunteer and a docent at the Virginia Air and Space Science Center.

In 2003, Quinto was assigned to the 14-by-22 tunnel. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 technical reports on low-speed aerodynamics of military aircraft and on the subsonic tunnel operations.

“There are 15 major wind tunnels (at NASA Langley) and the 14-by-22 is one of the largest wind tunnels. Each wind tunnel has its own niche,” Quinto said. “Our niche is mainly takeoff and landing. I consider this is the most important part. If you don’t get off the ground and if you don’t land (safely) it doesn’t matter what happens in between.”

The Sigma lecture series begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tues., Dec. 8 and will be streamed at this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-lrc

Lisa Vernon Sparks, 757-247-4832, lvernonsparks@dailypress.com

———

©2020 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Visit the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.) at www.dailypress.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Daily Press

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon