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The University of Southampton
Engineering

University to feature on James May’s Toy Stories

Published: 18 December 2012

The University of Southampton’s prestigious RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel will feature on this year’s Christmas special of James May’s Toy Stories, Flight Club.

The show, which airs on BBC2 at 9.30pm on Sunday 23 December, is about flying toys.

The Top Gear presenter came to the wind tunnel earlier in the year and was accompanied by students from Brunel University who designed a glider to be flown across the English Channel.

They used the wind tunnel to establish the lift to drag ratio (L over D) of the glider, a measurement which gives the efficiency of an aircraft. By calculating this ratio they are able to determine the height at which they would need to release the glider to allow it to cross the Channel.

James May in the wind tunnel

While using the wind tunnel, the team also used smoke to see where the air flow was going and how it is interacting with the surface of the model.

James was impressed with the University's facility saying: "It's brilliant - it's the sort of thing you dream of having when you were young, at home and playing with a toy glider. The first wind tunnel was the size of a match box so to see and experience something as big as this is fantastic. I have never seen a better demonstration of the breaking up of the flow of wind, as I have here with the smoke box. It is a great facility."

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