Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel - Wichita State University's low speed wind tunnel for research and testing
Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

The Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel provides commercial companies, government agencies, and educational institutions with the facilities, equipment and research staff to meet their aerodynamic testing and research needs.

The Beech Wind Tunnel is an atmospheric, return type, closed-throat, subsonic wind tunnel with a test section 7 feet high, 10 feet wide and 12 feet long. Air speeds in the test section can reach in excess of 230 mph.

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel A dual circuit, closed loop, liquid-filled heat exchanger is used to limit temperature rise in the tunnel and permits full speed operation all day long, seven days a week. Flow conditioning elements including a precise honeycomb structure and spring-tensioned screen installed in the stilling chamber straighten and smooth out the airflow in the test section. The test section is predominantly glass-paned for optical access allowing virtually all flow visualization techniques and positions.

The Beech Wind Tunnel offers a full range of low speed wind tunnel testing services at a flat user occupancy hourly rate. Wind tunnel testing is available using our state of the art external underfloor balance or sting system and library of internal balances. Also available are equipment ranging from electronic pressure measuring equipment to flow visualization techniques captured by digital video and photography are also available for use at no additional charge. A very flexible digital system for test planning and communication is available and our data reduction software may be modified nearly real time.

The charge for using the facility is based upon the test section user occupancy hour. No charges are made for using the model preparation room for unloading and loading of wind tunnel models from their shipping containers by the clients. The Beech Wind Tunnel is an ideal production tunnel for many air and ground vehicles. High run rates, data repeatability, and an attentive crew are just some of our core strengths. The wind tunnel laboratory is US ITAR compliant.

Tunnel Specifications

Type: Subsonic (≤ M=0.3), Closed Return, Atmospheric, Closed Test Section with Active Heat Exchange

Test Section: 7 x 10 x 12 feet

Performance (Empty Test Section):
Dynamic Pressure: ~ 125 psf
Reynold’s Number/ft: ~2.0M
Speed: ~ 235 mph/204 KTAS

Max Demonstrated Temp: ~ 95°F (continuous)

Equipment and Capabilities

Internal Balances

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

Two different designs of 2.0 inch internal balances from Triumph (Calspan) Force Measurement Systems and Aerotech ATE are available for full model testing. Both balance designs have the following load range capabilities:

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

The MC-30-2.00-E Balance also has a lower range calibration for increased accuracy and resolution at lower load ranges. The load range for this calibration is:

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

A Task MK-39A 3/4 inch is also available for smaller models. This balance has the following load ranges:

Walter H. Beech Wind TunnelWalter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

Sting System

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

The Beech Wind Tunnel has a robotic sting system to position an internal balance mounted model to the following angles:

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

Several stings are available that interface with the Beech Wind Tunnel's internal balances. Balance and stings from other companies and facilities may also be used.

External Balance

The Beech Wind Tunnel has at its core an Aerotech ATE truncated prism, pyramidal type, virtual center external underfloor balance. The external balance has the following load range capabilities:

Walter H. Beech Wind TunnelWalter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

The balance can rotate in yaw angle from -210° to +150° and offers robotic mounting hardware that is able to position a model in pitch from -45° to +45°, depending upon the model installation and mounting hardware.

The balance also has an on-board load checking system that allows for health and fouling checking of the mounting system while a model is installed in the wind tunnel. This system is useful for checking the quality of measured loads while a model is installed and after experiencing heavy loading.

External Balance Mounting Setups

The Beech Wind Tunnel has two main mounting arrangements for the external balance. The single point mount attaches to the balance platform and attaches to the model from underneath. This system has the ability to pitch the model from -45° to +45° incidence. In addition, an image system is available for determining tare loads and interference effects.

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

Also available is a traditional three-point mounting setup for aircraft. This system has pylons that attach to outboard wing panels and a robotic pitch strut that sets and maintains model incidence. Incidence range is based on model geometry. An image system is also available for this mounting setup.

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

The three-point mount has the ability to pitch and yaw a wind tunnel model to the following ranges using the model constraints outlined below:

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

In addition to the aircraft mounting setups mentioned above, the Beech Wind Tunnel is capable of testing some ground vehicles and many other objects as well. Please contact the Beech Wind Tunnel Staff for more information.

Electronic Pressure Scanners

The Beech Wind Tunnel has four (4) Scanivalve MPS 4284 Miniature Pressure Scanners, each with sixty-four (64) channels of precision pressure measurement for customer use.

Walter H. Beech Wind TunnelWalter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

Two pressure ranges are available for measurement, ± 1 PSID and ± 5 PSID, each with 128 total channels. These scanners are small enough to be installed inside a model, yet easily positioned underneath the model for external balance testing.

In addition, one sixteen (16) channel Scanivalve DSA 3217 electronic pressure scanner with a ± 1PSID range is available for use.

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

A total of 272 model pressures may be measured with this new system, with room for expansion provided sufficient lead time.

Several single and multi-hole probes are available for use for flow field investigations.

Flow Visualization

Several flow visualization techniques are available for investigation at the Beech Wind Tunnel. These techniques include:
  • Yarn and String Tufts
  • Microtufts
  • China Clay/kerosene
  • Oil Flow
  • Fluorescent Oil Flow
  • Acenaphthylene/Acetone (for transition studies)
  • Smoke Flow

Other Services

The Beech Wind Tunnel has all the resources of the National Institute for Aviation Research available to its customers. The most applicable labs are mentioned below:

Reverse Engineering
The NIAR Reverse Engineering Lab is available for scanning of wind tunnel models and components.

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

The Reverse Engineering lab is also part of the Additive Manufacturing Lab that can 3D print parts and components of wind tunnel models with short lead times and competitive prices.

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel

Research Manufacturing
The NIAR Research Manufacturing is available to manufacture or modify wind tunnel models. The shop has a very talented staff with several CNC machines and one CNC lathe, as well as manual machines and other equipment. The shop specializes in precision 'one-off' parts like wind tunnel model parts.

Walter H. Beech Wind Tunnel



John Laffen, Director
(316) 978-5481

Kevin Kelly, Senior Research Engineer
(316) 978-6313
Wichita State University
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