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What is the Kirsten Wind Tunnel (aka UWAL, UW Aero Lab, KWT)?

The Kirsten Wind Tunnel (KWT) is an 8 foot high by 12 foot wide subsonic wind tunnel located on the central Seattle campus of the University of Washington. UWAL (UW Aeronautical Laboratory) is the Auxiliary Enterprise that operates KWT. UWAL was established in the 1930's with the aim that commercial revenue-testing would sustain operations. Eligible engineering undergraduates could get practical experience if hired for operations and computing shifts at UWAL/KWT, a policy that continues to this day. UWAL personnel can also support commercial tests utilizing other department facilities and equipment.

UWAL's Partners

Most wind tunnel tests at UWAL are virtual partnerships
with people from multiple end-customer locations,
consultants, model manufacturers, government agencies,
and UWAL working together. To the right is a brief
video outlining one of the most enduring of such partnerships.


Your generous donations enhance undergraduates' hands-on
learning at UWAA facilities including the wind tunnels.
Consider making a donation to funds such as the James A. Weiberg
Fund, Joseph F. Sutter Fund, or other programs that benefit the
UW Dept. of Aeronautics And Astronautics. Click here.

Kirsten Wind Tunnel

The Kirsten Wind Tunnel is a subsonic, closed circuit, double return wind tunnel. The tunnel has a test section with a rectangular 8' x 12' cross-section that is 10 feet long. Two sets of 14' 9"-diameter seven-bladed propellers move the air up to 200 MPH through the test section. A computer-automated model positioning and data acquisition system ensures testing efficiency and precise measurements while a networked data reduction and plotting system allows for immediate data visibility. Most tests make use of KWT's six-component external balance. We also support high channel count Electronic Pressure Scanning (EPS) systems. For more detailed information, please see the Technical Guide ("TECHINFO.PDF") on the Download page.

Air Speeds 5-200 MPH (90 m/s, 295 ft/s)
Dynamic Pressures 0.07-100 psf
Flow Angularity Upflow = -0.012°, Crossflow = 0.0°
Turbulence Intensity 0.72%
Test Section

8' tall, 12' wide, 10' long (2.44x3.66x3.05m)

External Balance Limits
Lift: ±2500 lbs ±11120 N
Drag: ±250 lbs ±1112 N
Side: ±250 lbs ±1112 N
Pitching: ±5000 in-lbs ±564.9 N-m
Yawing: ±5000 in-lbs ±564.9 N-m
Rolling: ±5000 in-lbs ±564.9 N-m
Model Positioning Fully automated pitch and yaw accurate to ±0.02°
Data Reduction Semi-corrected plots of data available in real-time. A separate data set with final corrections is produced as appropriate with customer input.
Flow Visualizations Tinted oils, china clay, sublimation, UV minitufts (Smoke stream? Call - repairs and/or changes are in the works))
Electronic Pressure Scanning Scanivalve EPS Modules: one 64-Port Dual Bank Module (±0.007psi) and one 32-Port Single Bank Module (±0.005psi)
Test Types

Scale-model Aircraft, Scale-model Ground Vehicles, UAV's, Bicycles, Motorcycles, Racing Yacht Keels



UW Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics Water Tunnel

The UWAA Water Tunnel was removed from Guggenheim Hall 11Aug2015 and is no longer owned by UWAA.

Planning has begun for re-building the water tunnel at another UW location (Harris Hydraulics Lab). Hopefully the planning will turn into an active project and the water tunnel will become available again.

UW Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics 3X3 LSWT

The 3X3 LSWT remains in service. KWT has rarely supported commercial testing in the 3X3, since it is easier and more cost effective for us to host commercial testing at KWT. But if the nature of a given test is indeed best suited for the 3X3, then KWT can assist with getting in contact with someone at UWAA who can help.

Other Related Websites:

University of Washington Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

UW Resources for Business and Industry

College of Engineering Partnerships with Industry

Subsonic Aerodynamic Testing Association (SATA) Home Page