Wind tunnel testing of aircraft models is essential to determine aerodynamic parameters such as lift and drag. The 5-foot Wright Field wind tunnel is an early example of the modern wind tunnel, well known from the early 1920s to the late 1950s for its contributions to research and the development of nearly every major aircraft and associated hardware used by the US Air Force and its predecessor, the Army Air Service.
Tracing its history to the earliest days of powered flight – to the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss – the site began as the research laboratory of the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Company. After World War II, it was donated to Cornell University, and in January 1946 opened its doors as the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory. Nearly every military aircraft and space vehicle developed in the United States from the end of World War II until the present day has been tested at the facility, now known as Calspan.