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An Historical and Applied Aerodynamic Study of the Wright Brothers’ Wind Tunnel Test Program and Application to Successful Manned Flight

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael G. Dodson, David S. Miklosovic

U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD

Paper No. FEDSM2005-77256, pp. 269-278; 10 pages
doi:10.1115/FEDSM2005-77256
From:
  • ASME 2005 Fluids Engineering Division Summer Meeting
  • Volume 1: Symposia, Parts A and B
  • Houston, Texas, USA, June 19–23, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Fluids Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4198-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3760-2
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME

abstract

A replica wind tunnel was built and used to test the flow quality through the Wright Brothers’ wind tunnel. The research determined the effect flow quality and experimental method had on the Brothers’ results, and whether those results were useful in a quantitative sense. Particle image velocimetry revealed boundary layers extending 2.5” (63.5 mm) from each wall, and velocity gradients as large as 20% along the wind tunnel model span resulting in an asymmetric lift distribution. Similarly, the balance generated asymmetric wingtip vortices contributing to asymmetric downwash along the span of the model. Direct force measurements of a replica of the Wrights #12 airfoil showed their lift measurements were at least 7% and as much as 15% too low, and numerical analysis revealed wind tunnel predictions for lift, drag, and efficiency were not applicable to full scale design due to Reynolds number scaling effects.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Wind tunnels , Flight

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