The Daily News had an interesting article today about the closing down of the North American Trisonic Wind Tunnel. This is a 500-foot-long wind tunnel, which is capable of generating wind speeds faster than 21,000 mph [ETA: this appears to be a typo in the original article; the number is more likely 2,100 mph]. Originally built by Rockwell International, formerly North American Aviation, it was donated to UCLA in 1998 for use as a university research facility (which never happened). Since then, Triumph Aerospace Systems has continued to operate the plant, paying rent and sharing profits with UCLA. It featured a 49-square-foot test section allowing for larger test models and room for engineers to stand (compared to a normal 16 sq foot test area), and boasted speeds up to 3½ times the speed of sound. The tunnel routinely blew about 1,300 hours a year, and in January alone clocked 300 hours. Tests cost $3,500 an hour.
The tunnel’s landlord, UCLA, has opted to close the facility, mostly citing environmental concerns over previous PCB spills. And so another piece of aerospace history disappears from the landscape of Los Angeles.