Video: David Massey

Wind Tunnel Components Roar Into Place

Fifteen truckloads. Two forklifts. Two large cranes. A crew of eight people moving 202,480 pounds of custom-designed scientific research equipment destined for Embry-Riddle’s new advanced subsonic wind tunnel facility.

On Jan. 22, 2018, a convoy of flatbed trucks relocated several massive components of the wind tunnel from the Sheltair Hangar at Daytona Beach International Airport, across airport property, to Embry-Riddle’s Research Park on Clyde Morris Boulevard.
The stakes were high: Several pieces of the wind tunnel, such as the test section, drive motor, fan and other electrical systems, had to be kept bone-dry. Other pieces required pressure-washing and cleaning before they could be loaded into the wind-tunnel building.

With big cranes swinging heavy equipment into place, the path had to be carefully cleared of bystanders, parked cars and other hazards. Rain would have delayed the operation, jeopardizing a narrow window of opportunity before race-car fans began flocking to the airport for the Rolex 24 races at Daytona International Speedway.

Supervised by Chris Hardesty, Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach, Fla.-based director of planning and construction, with engineering oversight by Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering J. Gordon Leishman, contractors Chuck Coleman and Harold Goodemote, and the manufacturer of the wind tunnel, ASE/FluiDyne, the complicated relocation effort was meticulously choreographed in advance.

“Bearing in mind the large size and heavy weight of most of the pieces of the wind tunnel, the move went much quicker than expected, a testimony to the careful advance planning,” Leishman said.

The 16,000-square-foot wind tunnel facility, adjacent to Embry-Riddle’s John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex (MicaPlex), is scheduled to go live by the summer of 2018.

One of the most technologically advanced subsonic wind tunnels in the United States, the Embry-Riddle facility will be capable of delivering windflow speeds up to 230 mph. It will also support a scientific flow measurement technique called Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV).

The PIV technique allows researchers to use high-speed lasers and special cameras to analyze the effects of different airflow speeds and conditions in the wind tunnel. In this way, they could better understand, for example, the flow around wings and airplanes. The facility will be used by faculty, students and external customers such as government and industry researchers.

Stay tuned for more time-lapse video footage of the wind tunnel facility as it continues to take shape.

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s largest, oldest and most comprehensive institution specializing in aviation, aerospace, engineering and related degree programs. A fully accredited university, Embry-Riddle is also a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. A nonprofit, independent institution, Embry-Riddle offers more than 100 associate, baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. The university educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through its Worldwide Campus with more than 135 locations in the United States, Europe and Asia, and through online programs. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.