AER Facilities

Kirsten Wind Tunnel

The Kirsten Wind Tunnel is a subsonic wind tunnel located on the central Seattle campus of the University of Washington. Built in 1936, it operates as an auxiliary enterprise led by a staff engineer/manager as well as a crew of undergraduate employees who gain practical experience by running tests.

The wind tunnel was conceived as the University of Washington Aeronautical Lab (UWAL) and was later named the Kirsten Aeronautical Laboratory to honor Professor F. K. Kirsten. It was operated historically by the organization known as the University of Washington Aeronautical Lab (UWAL). With the integration of all William E. Boeing Department’s research and education laboratories into the University of Washington Aerospace Engineering Research Laboratories (UW AER Labs) organization, the Kirsten Wind Tunnel (KWT) name for the wind tunnel was selected to replace the UWAL designation in late 2015 and is now used as the only name for the wind tunnel and its operations.

KWT Partnerships

Most wind tunnel tests at KWT are virtual partnerships with people from multiple end-customer locations, consultants, model manufacturers, government agencies, and KWT's staff 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 to the Kirsten Wind Tunnel .


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 Smoke, oils, china clay, sublimation, UV minitufts
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



3X3 Low Speed Wind Tunnel (LWST)

The 3X3 Low Speed Wind Tunnel (LWST) remains in service. KWT staff have 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 staff can assist with getting in contact with someone at UWAA who can help.

Other Related Websites:

College of Engineering Partnerships with Industry

Subsonic Aerodynamic Testing Association (SATA) Home Page