1995.25 | Wind tunnel

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Wind tunnel
Wallace Rupert Turnbull
1900-1910, 20th century
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

The Industrial Revolution planted seeds of boundless possibility in the imaginations of inventors at the turn of the 20th century. One individual caught up in the drive for progress was the New Brunswick engineer Wallace Rupert Turnbull (1870-1954). A man with numerous interests, Turnbull was particularly fascinated by artificial flight. Born in Saint John and educated at Cornell University, Turnbull set up shop in Rothesay, New Brunswick, in 1902. Turnbull conducted his work privately to avoid being labelled a "flying machine crank."

It was in those early years that Turnbull produced the first wind tunnel in Canada. It consisted of a fan driven by a two-bladed belt that pushed air through a screen and honeycomb into a 16-inch square tunnel 6 feet long. For the next several years Turnbull experimented with internal combustion engines, turbines and hydroplanes. But it was his pioneering work with propellers that eventually brought him international fame and fortune.

  • What

    Wallace Rupert Turnbull built the first wind tunnel in Canada in 1902.

  • Where

    Wallace Rupert Turnbull worked in a two-storey building named Anderson Barn located in Rothesay Park, a forested peninsula in the Kennebecasis River.

  • When

    Wallace Rupert Turnbull's greatest achievement, the variable-pitch propeller, was tested in flight in 1927.

  • Who

    Wallace Rupert Turnbull was a member of several prominent associations, among them the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Canadian Forestry Association and the Royal Aeronautical Society.