Press Release

NASA Speaker Will Profile Historic “Cave of the Winds”

By SpaceRef Editor
June 1, 2012
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HAMPTON, Va. – This coming Tuesday, June 6, at NASA’s Langley Research Center here, former NASA aerospace engineer Joe Chambers will present, “Cave of the Winds: The Remarkable History of the NASA-Langley Full-Scale Wind Tunnel,” at 2 p.m. in the Reid Conference Center.

The tunnel with its huge 30- by 60-foot test section operated for over 78 years as NASA’s oldest wind tunnel and was recently demolished in 2011.

Chambers will be available to answer questions from the media during a news briefing at 1:15 p.m. that day. Media who wish to do so should contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786, or by e-mail at, by noon on the day of the talk for credentials and entry to the Center.

That same evening at 7:30, Chambers will host a similar presentation for the general public at the Virginia Air & Space Center in downtown Hampton. This Sigma Series event is free and no reservations are required.

Beginning operation in 1931, media dubbed the gigantic Full-Scale Tunnel, then the world’s largest wind tunnel and the only tunnel capable of testing full-scale powered airplanes, “The Cave of the Winds.” Test subjects included biplanes in the 1930s, historic Army and Navy aircraft during World War II, helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, general aviation airplanes, space capsules, Para wings, current fighters including the F/A-18 and F-22, and revolutionary designs of the future.

In addition, tunnel tests were conducted on submarines, inflatable airplanes, dirigibles, NASCAR automobiles and a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. There will be a decade-by-decade overview of some of the more interesting and critical tests with extensive photographs and film segments of actual tests.

Chambers retired from the NASA Langley in 1998 after a 36-year career as a researcher and manager of research activities on military and civil aircraft. He began his career in 1962 as a member of the research staff of the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel where he specialized in flight dynamics research and was named head of the Full-Scale in 1974.

Chambers received several of NASA’s highest awards including the Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Exceptional Service Medal and the Public Service Medal. In addition to historical research on the Langley Research Center, he has written seven NASA books on topics including Langley’s contributions to U.S. military aircraft of the 1990s and contributions by NASA to aviation. Chambers has a Bachelor of Science degree from Georgia Tech and a Master of Science degree from Virginia Tech.

His presentation, “Cave of the Winds: The Remarkable History of the NASA-Langley Full-Scale Wind Tunnel,” is a new NASA book of the same title by Chambers. NASA is currently preparing the book for printing later this year.

For more information about NASA Langley’s Colloquium and Sigma Series Lectures, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.