Pitot Tubes

What does a pitot tube look like? Here are a few examples. The first is a pitot tube. The second is a pitot tube affixed to the underside of an airplane wing, facing into the wind. The third is a diagram of the way a pitot tube is used to give readings a pilot can use during flight. Wait! There’s more!

Henri Pitot

PitotHenri Pitot (1695-1771) was a hydraulic engineer who invented a device that is still in use today. That device, theĀ pitot tube, measures the velocity of a fluid flow at a given point. Pitot used his pitot tube to measure the flow of water in rivers and canals.


Diagram of Modern Pitot Tube

The pitot tube is a deceptively simple device. Pitot’s original tube had two tubes. The first was a tube that stuck straight up, open ad one end and inserted vertically into the water. This tube measured the static pressure – the pressure of the water at rest. The second tube was bent at a right angle. The open end of the right angle faced directly in the fluid flow. Pitot used his tubes to measure the velocity of the Seine River. He stood on a bridge and lowered his apparatus into the water. Wait! There’s more!

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