The R J Mitchell Wind Tunnel at the University of Southampton is one of those places that you dream of when you are a little boy. The big propellers, the science fiction atmosphere – I kept on imagining the doors would suddenly lock, the propeller would start to turn, and I would turn around to see a stony faced underling staring at me through the glass of the control room as he turned the knob to make the propeller go faster. Then SPLAT.
Luckily that didn’t happen – actually the man in charge, Dr. David Mitchell, was very nice. I looked for the evil in his eyes before I got in the wind tunnel, but I couldn’t see any, so I took my chances. The wind tunnel was built in the 80s, and named after R J Mitchell, the aeronautical engineer that designed the Spitfire Fighter and lived in Southampton while he designed it in the early 1930s. R J Mitchell once said “If anybody ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can’t understand it, take it from me: it’s all balls.” That’s always been my motto too.