28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

I've always been amazed by wind tunnels. Why? First of all, they're massive structures. Then there's the remarkable contribution they make to science and engineering—without wind tunnels, we likely wouldn't have developed the aerospace technology that put us on the moon. And finally, wind tunnels are often simply gorgeous, dramatic spaces. For proof, see the striking images below, which span almost a full century of wind tunnel testing.

1922. The Variable Density Tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center. It was the world's first variable density wind tunnel that allowed accurate testing with small-scale models.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA


The honeycombed, screened center of this open-circuit air intake for Langley's first wind tunnel insured a steady, non-turbulent flow of air.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NACA/NASA


1934. Annual aircraft engineering conference group photo in the full-scale wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Library of Congress


A technician prepares to unlatch the door built into the guide vanes of the 16-Foot Transonic Wind Tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center. This tunnel, one of dozens of research facilities at Langley, was built in 1939.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Bill Taub/NASA


The wind tunnel at the NASA Glenn Research Center, in 1944.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA/Glenn Research Center


Inside the 16-foot supersonic wind tunnel of thPropulsion Wind Tunnel Facility, Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., 1960.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Phil Tarver/U.S. Air Force


Here's a rare photograph of a large Tu-144 scale model in a wind tunnel. The Soviet supersonic transport aircraft was designed by the Tupolev bureau, and the design was unveiled in 1962.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Utak és járművek - A Szovjetúnió közlekedése, 1975 (Roads and vehicles - Transportation in the USSR)


Model of supersonic transport in the full-scale wind tunnel at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Library of Congress


The smaller, 10x10 foot wind tunnel test section at NASA's Glenn Research Center, in 1964.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Paul Riedel/NASA GRC


A Schlieren photograph of an F11F-1 Tiger at Mach 1.4 in the 1-foot by 3-foot wind tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center, in February 1965.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA


SCIP-3 Model, Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel (1251), NASA Langley Research Center, 1975.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA


A BMW R 100 RS motorcycle in the Pininfarina wind tunnel, 1976.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: BMW


A Schleiren photo of a supersonic wind tunnel model of the XB-70 Valkyrie bomber, with its wingtips set in the “up” position.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: The Unwanted Blog


Laser doppler velocimeter test in the 8x6 foot wind tunnel at NASA's Glenn Research Center, 1979.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA GRC


Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) engineer observes the testing of a small Space Shuttle orbiter model at 14 Wind Tunnel in 1980.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA


The silhouette of a workman in the 8x6 foot wind tunnel at NASA's Glenn Research Center, 1980.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA GRC


A model hypersonic craft undergoing tests in the 20 Inch Mach 6 Tunnel NASA Langley Research Center, 1986.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: James Schultz/NASA


The 16-foot fairing and turning vanes of the 16-foot transonic wind tunnel of Langley after rehabilitation, in 1990.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA


Langley's 16-foot transonic wind tunnel cone fairing.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA


On September 1, 1993, Skier Picabo Street trained at the USST Wind Tunnel testing facility in Buffalo, New York.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Mike Powell/Getty Images


F-16XL wind tunnel model in the Unitary and Continuous-Flow Hypersonic Tunnels Building 1251, NASA Langley Research Center, April 29, 1994

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA


November 4th, 1997: Graham Bell of England in position on the Jordan wind tunnel at Brackley, Northamptonshire, England.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Mike Cooper /Allsport/Getty Images


The BMW H2R ("Hydrogen Record Car") in a wind tunnel, in 2004.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: BMW


Speed skier Tracie Max Sachs from USA in the wind tunnel of the Geneva Engineers School in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, March 8, 2007.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: KEYSTONE/Martial Trezzini/AP


United States Olympic luge team member Mark Grimmette is positioned for a wind tunnel test in a new racing suit to be used for the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics, at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in February 2010, in San Diego.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Lenny Ignelzi/AP


The world's largest automotive wind tunnel at the General Motors Aerodynamics Laboratory August 4, 2010 in Warren, Michigan. The tunnel features a 43-foot diameter fan.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images


Schlieren testing of the 70-metric-ton configuration of the SLS rocket, designed to carry the Orion spacecraft, in the Trisonic Wind Tunnel at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA/MSFC


The largest parachute ever built to fly on an extraterrestrial mission—for NASA's Curiosity mission to Mars—inside the world's largest wind tunnel, at NASA Ames Research Center, 2009.

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

28 Gorgeous Wind Tunnels That Will Blow You AwayS

Photo: NASA/Ames Research Center/JPL


Do you miss any important, awesome, less known photo from this collection? Please, post it in the comments!