Upcoming Exhibition | NASA Ames Supersonic and Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Models

Upcoming Exhibition | NASA Ames Supersonic and Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Models

International Terminal

Aviation Museum & Library, Departures Level 3
January 2023 - October 2023

Testing the Transports of Tomorrow
NASA Ames Supersonic and Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Models

Up until the late 1940s, aircraft were incapable of flying beyond the speed of sound (approximately 767 miles per hour depending on the temperature and density of the atmosphere). Yet this barrier—thought by many to be nature’s limit to the speed aircraft could possibly fly— was suddenly shattered in 1947 when decorated World War II ace and test pilot Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the experimental Bell X-1 aircraft. Following this monumental and transcendent achievement, aeronautical studies and experiments of supersonic flight commenced at a rapid pace during the postwar era. The Ames Research Center in Mountainview, California, became a major part of this endeavor. Founded in 1939, by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and named after Joseph Sweetman Ames, a physicist and one of the founding members of NACA, Ames became a leading facility for supersonic aircraft testing. In 1958, Ames became part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Since then, NASA Ames has had a prominent role in testing supersonic transport aircraft design concepts, as well as hypersonic space reentry vehicle research and testing. Much of this was done in the center's premier wind tunnels with scaled-down aircraft models. This exhibition will present a collection of NASA Ames high-speed transport wind tunnel models from the early supersonic concepts of the 1950s to the X-59 of today. 

Supersonic Transport (SST) aircraft technology concept in flight  1971
Rick Guidice (b. 1942)
Collection of NASA
NASA ID: ARC-1971-AC71-4036