Skip Navigation
Oklahoma State University

Unsteady Wind Tunnel

The Gust and Shear Tunnel was developed in the late 2000s to serve a pressing need to evaluate the aerodynamic performance characteristic of miniature flight vehicles and small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), particularly micro air vehicles, that are capable of handing outdoor environments. Suitable facilities to study flight dynamics at the micro-air vehicle (MAV) scale and lower do not commonly exist. Unlike larger vehicles where the magnitude of gust encounters are small when compared to the mean flow, gust magnitudes can be as large or larger than the mean flow for these small vehicles. Likewise, shears can be significant and vary rapidly, particularly in urban environments where man made structures present rapid changes in the flow field. In order to study these phenomena at the MAV scale and as an aid to vehicle development and testing, a simple gust & shear wind tunnel (GST) has been developed that mimics unsteady flows commonly found in the atmosphere and indoor environments. Using a bank of computer controlled fans operated in arrays, combinations of both gusts and shears can be generated in the test section. This one-of-a-kind facility developed at OSU is useful for atmospheric testing of sUAS, MAVs, and both bird and insect flight dynamics.