DAYTON, Ohio — Aeronautical researchers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have found that they can use computer models to test aircraft designs at about one-tenth the cost of using wind tunnels.
Since the days of the Wright brothers, researchers have used wind tunnels to test airframe designs by subjecting scale models to airflow examinations.
Now, a research group led by Joseph J. S. Shang at Wright-Patterson's Aeronautical Systems Division is using a hookup to a National Aeronautics and Space Administration computer in California to do the tests in less time and more cheaply.
Recently, Shang's group simulated a flight of the X-24C, an old Air Force aerospace research vehicle, at six times the speed of sound. The Air Force had conducted wind tunnel tests on the X-24C's airframe in 1974, and the data was still available for comparison.