RAE Bedford Wind Tunnel

RAE Bedford Wind Tunnel

In 1946 Thurleigh became the site for the second Royal Aircraft Establishment site. Two new runways were built in the post-war period to accommodate the Bristol Brabazon aircraft (which required a very long runway) that ultimately never went into production. The site had several reasonably large windtunnels, one supersonic and one large subsonic. It also had a ‘drop tower’, the drop tower is now used as a skydiving training venue. The supersonic tunnel was dismantled by 2005 and the building which held the fans and driving motors is now used as the set for the BBC popular science programme, “Bang Goes The Theory”. The RAE was deeply involved in the development of Concorde and was also a centre for the development of the Instrument Landing System.

It took us a little while to not only find the infamous RAE Bedford wind tunnel, but also to gain access to it. The group were about to call it a day when Khan spotted a small window open several levels up. None us thought he could do the climb, and even if he could pull it off, how the hell were the rest of going to do that climb? Luckily, a few moments inside and he worked out a way to open one of the fire doors and we were in!

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