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Wind Tunnel

Impressive pupil's dedication

Wind Tunnel

Project Description

Why do airplanes fly? Not a really new or exciting question. After all, the answer was already given as far back as the 18th Century by Daniel Bernoulli. And without that knowledge, we would not now be able to just hop on a plane and fly off to Mallorca, for instance. Nevertheless, school pupil Adrian Dörfler decided to deal with this topic and to build his very own wind tunnel.

It all began with a visit to Munich University of Applied Sciences. Walter Kastenmeyer, head of the physics seminar at a high school in Landsberg (Dominikus-Zimmermann-Gymnasium), made a trip there with his 15 pupils. The motto of the seminar was “How and why do airplanes fly?”. The seminar participants focused on this question for a whole 18 months. Among the participating pupils was Adrian Dörfler.

The final task of the seminar was to build a wind tunnel – or, more precisely, a model of one. “Size-wise I was more thinking of 20 centimeters or so,” says Mr. Kastenmeyer, smiling. However, 18-year-old Adrian had something bigger in mind. And little by little, the plan to build an operational wind tunnel began to take shape.

After carrying out extensive research and following several considerations, Adrian designed his wind tunnel himself using a computer. The equipment and mechanical engineering company Stelzner in Ummendorf cut all the metals for the housing and cladding to Adrian's specifications.
The welding was carried out by Adrian himself. In his garage at home he had all the necessary tools to hand, and his grandfather had taught him how to weld. Walter Pischel from the Frank Hirschvogel Foundation is impressed by the welding seams: “There’s nothing to criticize.”

The result of Adrian’s efforts is an impressive machine that makes a lot of noise, testifying to the power that is behind it. On one side the air is sucked in; on the other the large fan blows everything towards you again. This creates wind speeds of up to 100 km/h. In the middle there is a chamber. There, Adrian draped the wing of a model airplane. Above this, there are tubes containing colored water. By seeing if the water inside rises or sinks, you can tell whether the pressure in the chamber is becoming higher or lower. Theory says: The faster a body moves in air, the more the pressure decreases from above. At the same time, the pressure from below rises and the object flies.

And what is the conclusion reached by Adrian’s project? Airplanes can fly. The result may not generate enormous enthusiasm, but the same cannot be said of his impressive self-built wind tunnel. 

Project details

Topic: Research

Age category: 12 - 18 years

Venue: School

Duration: a maximum of 1 year

Participation requirements: None

Project funding

Project funding

It is possible for the Frank Hirschvogel Foundation to assume part of the costs for extraordinary projects. 

Project inquiry