Gustaf Eiffel (1832-1923) is not only the man behind the Eiffel Tower (1889, see previous posts) and a large number of bridges, railway stations and other buildings all over the world (incl. in South America, Asia, Africa…) not forgetting the interior construction of the N.Y. Statue of Liberty (see previous posts), but when he officially retired he concentrated on meteorology and aerodynamics. Eiffel’s interest in meteorology and aerodynamics was of course particularly linked to the effects of wind forces on the structures he had built.
It is said that especially his contribution to the science of aerodynamics is of equal importance to his work as an engineer and architect.
He experimented at the Eiffel Tower with a drop test machine, built a small laboratory at the foot of the Tower in 1905, added a small wind tunnel in 1909 (used e.g. for Wright Brothers experiments) and in 1912 built a larger laboratory and wind tunnel in the Auteuil area of the 16th arrondissement, which is still working and which I had the opportunity to visit.
The wind tunnel at Auteuil is based on an open jet of air with a closed test chamber and this system can still be seen in many later, much bigger tunnels. However, this tunnel is still used, smaller models of cars, airplanes, buildings, towers… are tested.
Some old measurement panels are kept, but today, of course, much more computerized instruments are used.
Some of Eiffel’s scientific works on meteorology and aerodynamics are exposed…
… as well as the drop test machine he used at the Tower.