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Trivia Teaser: Wind Tunnels

The first person to propose the use of wind tunnels to gather aerodynamic data was:
A) Wilbur Wright in 1901
B) Francis H. Wenham, in 1871
C) Edme Mariotte in 1673
D) Leonardo daVinci, ca. 1490

The first person to propose the use of wind tunnels to gather aerodynamic data was:
A) Wilbur Wright in 1901
B) Francis H. Wenham, in 1871
C) Edme Mariotte in 1673
D) Leonardo daVinci, ca. 1490

The Wright Brothers built a wind tunnel in 1901, and data derived from their tests were vital to the success of the 1903 Wright Flyer, but they were not the first. At the first meeting of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain, Francis Herbert Wenham delivered a paper entitled “Aerial Locomotion,” based upon measurements taken within his new invention, the wind tunnel, which he built in 1871 with John Browning. But he wasn’t the first, either. Edme Mariotte wrote an aerodynamics paper titled "Following the Movement of the Waters", published in Paris in 1673. But it was da Vinci who actually first noted the fact that, in his own words (written in his backwards hand and for that reason among others, hidden from the world for centuries): “As it is to move the object against the motionless air so it is to move the air against the motionless object.” He also wrote, elsewhere in the Codex Atlanticus, “The same force as is made by the thing against air, is made by air against the thing.” So the answer, somewhat alphabetically fitting, is D (semantic distinctions between proposal and implication notwithstanding).

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About This Author:
Jeff Pardo is an aviation writer in Maryland with commercial ASEL, instrument, helicopter, and glider ratings. He started flying in 1989 and has about 1500 hours. Jeff holds a bachelors in meteorology and oceanography, as well as an MS in marine science. Prior to his present tenure at SES, Jeff worked in flight dynamics for various telecommunication firms for 15 years. He has flown mostly Cessna and Piper airplanes and R-22 helicopters, and has about 70 hours in J3 and Citabria aircraft. He has flown as a mission pilot for the Civil Air Patrol, as a mission pilot for Angel Flight, and he was a contributing editor for AOPA Flight Training for about 10 years.
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