Reverend Henry Birkenhauer and E.F. Carome measure ground vibrations on West 220th Street caused by the operation of the 8- by 6-Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. The 8- by 6 was the laboratory’s first large supersonic wind tunnel. It was also the NACA’s most powerful supersonic tunnel, and the NACA’s first facility capable of running an engine at supersonic speeds. The 8- by 6 was originally an open-throat and non-return tunnel. This meant that the supersonic air flow was blown through the test section and out the other end into the atmosphere. Complaints from the local community led to the installation of a muffler at the tunnel exit and the eventual addition of a return leg.
Reverend Brikenhauer, a seismologist, and Carome, an electrical technician were brought in from John Carroll University to take vibration measurements during the 8- by 6 tunnel’s first run with a supersonic engine. They found that the majority of the vibrations came from the air and not the ground. The tunnel’s original muffler offered some relief during the facility checkout runs, but it proved inadequate during the operation of an engine in the test section. Tunnel operation was suspended until a new muffler was designed and installed.
The NACA researchers, however, were pleased with the tunnel’s operation. They claimed it was the first time a jet engine was operated in an airflow faster than Mach 2.