FARNBOROUGH WIND TUNNELS
Wind Tunnel Tours
The Wind Tunnels remain CLOSED. They are unlikely to open before August 2021 at the earliest.
The details below relate to normal operation and are for information only.
What you will see
The historic Wind Tunnels at Farnborough are some of the few remaining buildings from the world famous Royal Aircraft Establishment. Saved from demolition by FAST and given listed status, these magnificent buildings were at the forefront of aerodynamic research and development from the early 1930s until 1994.
The buildings are not open to the general public and tours are operated exclusively by volunteers from the Trust with the kind permission of the Farnborough Business Park Owners and Management Team.
The Wind Tunnels Tour provides a close look at two of the remaining tunnels and will give visitors an opportunity to learn about the varied history, the impressive construction, the critical research work undertaken before, during and after WWII up to and including the supersonic jet age.
A high quality souvenir booklet augments the tour and all proceeds go to supporting the ongoing work of the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust.
The wind tunnels are normally available to FAST during British Summer Time; access at any other time of the year is only allowed with the prior permission of the Farnborough Business Park.
Tours normally take place on a Thursday with morning and afternoon sessions available starting at 10:00 or 14:00 and lasting approximately 2.5 hours.
Morning Tour: 10.00 – 12.30
Please arrive no later than 09.45, the timetable is tight.
09.50 – 10.00 : Safety Briefing
10.00 – 10.30 : Introductory Talk
10.30 – 10.45 : Break
10.45 – 11.30 : Tour Part 1 – Group A Building Q121; Group B Building R52
11.30 – 12.15 : Tour Part 2 – Group A Building R52; Group B Building Q121
12.15 – 12.30 : Close and Questions
Afternoon Tour 14.00 – 16.30
Please arrive no later than 13.45, the timetable is tight.
13.50 – 14.00 : Safety Briefing
14.00 – 14.30 : Introductory Talk
14.30 – 14.45 : Break
14.45 – 15.30 : Tour Part 1 – Group A Building Q121; Group B Building R52
15.30 – 16.15 : Tour Part 2 – Group A Building R52; Group B Building Q121
16.15 – 16.30 : Close and Questions
The Tour follows this broad itinerary:
1. An initial gathering at the site in building R52, followed by an introduction to FAST and the volunteer team, ‘do’s, don’ts’ and full safety briefing.
2. An introductory talk about the history and operation of wind tunnels, followed by a short RAE archive film and an exhibition of wind tunnel models.
3. A close look at the ‘4 x 3’ low turbulence’ wind tunnel built entirely from wood in 1946.
4. A short walk to building Q121, the magnificent ’24 Foot’ Wind Tunnel’ opened in 1931 and in operation until 1994.
5. Tour of the preparation area, balance platform working section and ‘return circuit’ of the tunnel, including a close up look at the laminated mahogany fan.
6. A short walk across the site to the remains of the ‘Sea Plane Tank’.
7. Final gathering in building R52, subject matter Q&A, hand out of a high quality souvenir booklet and closing slide show.
Should it become possible for tours to resume prior to the end of the 2021 season and remain in full compliance with the latest Government guidelines, groups will be limited to a maximum of 5 visitors at a cost of £20.00 per person.
For the 2022 season – March to October during British Summer Time – the aim is to raise this limit to 10 visitors per tour with no change in the price.
We are committed to ensuring that our tours are accessible as possible to all visitors, regardless of disability.
Please note the following:
- Buildings R52 and Q121 are both mostly wheelchair accessible, either on the level or via ramps.
- Parts of Q121 are not suitable for those unable to walk and areas of R52 can only be reached via a flight of stairs. Nevertheless there is generally a good view of both tunnels from below.
- The walk between buildings is approximately 100m.
- Visitors should be able to hold one of our flashlights in order to illuminate their passage on some parts of the tour.
- Walking visitors please be aware that, as a former industrial facility, the floor surface can be a little uneven.
- If you feel that your access to the tour will be enabled by assistance, you are welcome to attend with your own carer, without additional charge. (We regret that FAST volunteers are unable to act in this capacity).
- Accessible toilet facilities are available approximately 100m away in the Hub Building. FAST marshals will be happy to escort or direct you as required.
Parking & Getting Here
The car park is adjacent to the 24ft Tunnel; this is the tall grey building with the clock on the side facing the Farnborough Road.
Access is via the traffic lights on the Farnborough Road (A325) by Barons BMW Showroom. Whichever way you come along the A325, turn towards the tall grey building, go straight on past the BMW Showroom; straight over the crossroads passing The Gloster Pub on your left then take the next turn left.
There will be FAST volunteers on hand wearing yellow identification tabards to supervise parking and direct you to the tour reception area.
The nearest rail station is Farnborough Main.
Specialist photographic sessions with no commercial element, such as those that may be requested by individuals, photographic clubs, historical interest groups, preservation societies, educational establishments or youth related organisations, are also available.
There is no set agenda for these visits but a thorough inspection typically takes at least 4 or 5 hours, so we suggest a start time of 10:00, a short break at lunch time with the day ending at approximately 16:30. We prefer these visits to take place on a Thursday but other week days may be possible by arrangement.
We ask for a single charitable donation of £150.00, permission to use high resolution, properly accredited copies of the photographs in any FAST marketing and publicity materials etc. and for the photographer to sign a confirmation document stating there is no commercial intent, which can be downloaded from the link below.
Commercial Filming or Photography
For commercial Film, Television or Photographic shoots, formal permission and agreed commercial terms must be obtained separately from the Farnborough Business Park.
This applies to any activity where the aim is, directly or indirectly, to use the material produced at the wind tunnels for:
- Public display
- Any other commercial purposes, such as product advertising or brand marketing campaigns
- Exhibition and sale of images
- Inclusion in any published material including a book, periodical or magazine.
Policies & Admin
Any Other Questions?
Farnborough Air Sciences Trust
85 Farnborough Road
Tel: 01252 375050