Wind tunnel tests are essential in testing how planes will hold up at various wind speeds and during turbulence‚ÄĒand they also make for some striking photos that take us through the history of aviation.

The Loening SCL-1 seaplane in the tunnel, at Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, October 1931

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(via Library of Congress)

The Ninth Annual Aircraft Engineering Conference in a full-scale wind tunnel with a Boeing P26A (also known as "Peashooter"), Langley Field, Virginia, May 1934

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(via Library of Congress)

An experimental plane model in a 24-foot wind tunnel at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at South Farnborough, Hants, England on April 5, 1935

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(Photo by AP/Staff/Putnam)

A man standing in a wind tunnel at Farnborough Research Station, Hants, Hampshire, England, July 1935

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(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

A photo by Harris & Ewing, 1936

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(via Library of Congress)

A Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter in the wind tunnel, 1940

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(via Reddit)

Vought V-173 (also known as the Flying Flapjack or Flying Pancake), designed by Charles H. Zimmermann, first flew in 1942

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(via Stuart Rankin)

Interior view of the long air return passage in the 16-foot transonic wind tunnel at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, photographed by William P. Taub in the 1940s

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(via Library of Congress)

At the NASA Glenn Research Center, 1944

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(via DVIDS)

A reconstructed German robot bomb is tested with its jet impulse engine operating in a 20-foot wind tunnel at the Air Technical Service Command, Wright Field, Ohio, Oct. 10, 23, 1944. For testing purposes, the robot was mounted upside down, as it appears here.

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(Photo by AP)

Drag tests of the Albacore submarine at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, c. 1950

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(via Library of Congress)

Model of a supersonic aircraft at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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(via Library of Congress)

A Saturn I booster model is set up for testing in NASA Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center's 8'x6' Supersonic Wind Tunnel in 1960. The model had eight working rocket engines with 250 pounds of thrust each.

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(via NASA APPEL)

A Tu-144 scale model in a wind tunnel, somewhere in the Soviet Union. It was unveiled in January 1962, and was the first commercial supersonic transport aircraft.

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(via Testpilots)

A Space Shuttle model in the 10x10 foot wind tunnel, 1977-1978

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(via DVIDS)

The Model 33 VariEze, a concept aircraft by Burt Rutan, in a twind tunnel at Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, July 1981

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(via Internet Archive)

The world's largest automotive wind tunnel at the General Motors Aerodynamics Laboratory in Warren, Michigan, constructed in 1981. It has a 43-foot diameter fan that uses laminated spruce blades that can generate wind speeds in excess of 130 miles per hour, and powered by a 4,500 horsepower DC electric motor.

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(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

FA-18 High Alpha fighter testing high angle-of-attack aerodynamics in a 80 by 120 ft wind tunnel, 1991

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(via Wikimedia Commons)

Skier Megan Gerety trains at USST Wind Tunnel testing facility in Buffalo, New York, September 1993

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(Photo by Mike Powell/Allsport, via Getty Images)

A technician prepares to unlatch the door built into the guide vanes of the 16-Foot Transonic WindTunnel at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.

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The tunnel, one of dozens of research facilities at Langley, was built in 1939 and most recently renovated in 1990. Operating transonically, or across the speed of sound, the air in the test section travels from about 150 to 1,000 miles per hour. The tunnel is called the ''16-Foot'' because its test section is approximately 16 feet in diameter. The guide vanes, which form an ellipse 58-feet high and 82-feet wide, cut across each cylindrical tube at a 45-degree angle.

(via DVIDS)

Ian Thorpe, also known as the Thorpedo in the Audi wind tunnel cenre in Ingolstadt, southern Germany, testing his new swimming costume, January 2003

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(Photo by AP/Audi)

Mach 7 wind tunnel test of the full-scale X-43A model with spare flight engine in Langley's 8-Foot High Temperature Tunnel, c. 2004

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(via NASA Dryden Flight Research Center)

A visit inside the diffuser section of the 16-foot supersonic wind tunnel (16S) at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee, October 2009

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(via Lance Cheung)

The X-48C, at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, 2010

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(via NASA)