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Flying Wing

SUBJECT: Aeronautics
TOPIC: Gliding flight
DESCRIPTION: An acrobatic flying wing is constructed from plastic foam trays obtainable from a supermarket.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Norm Poff (adapted from a design by Paul Mcilrath.)
EDITED BY: Roger Storm, NASA Glenn Research Center

MATERIALS:
Plastic foam meat or pastry tray, about 10 inches long, from a supermarket
Sharp cutting knife and cutting surface
Emery board, sandpaper, or metal file
Cellophane tape
Dime
Marker pen
Scissors

PROCEDURE:

1. Cut out and trace the Flying Wing pattern on the bottom of the foam tray. CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE TEMPLATE Position the pattern so that the shaded wing tips lay on one of the upturned edges of the tray. When cut out, the wing tips will have a permanent upward bend.
2. With the emery board, sandpaper, or metal file, shape the upper surface of the Flying Wing into an airfoil. Use the cross-section diagrams as a guide for shaping. Take your time and try to keep both sides symmetrical. This part is better done outdoors.
3. Tape the dime to the underside of the wing so that it is positioned just forward of the center mark. It will probably be necessary to adjust the position of the dime a few times to get the best position for flight. The Flying Wing is ready for test flights.

BALANCING AND FLYING THE FLYING WING:

Go to an open area and hold the Flying Wing in your hand as shown in the diagram. Toss the wing gently straight forward. Observe the flight of the Flying Wing.

















PROBLEMS AND CURES

FLIGHT PATH

CORRECTION

FLIES STRAIGHT GLIDES SMOOTHLY

DON'T MESS WITH IT!

BANKS TO THE RIGHT

SLIGHTLY FLATTEN THE RIGHT WING TIP BEND

BANKS TO THE LEFT

SLIGHTLY FLATTENT THE LEFT WING TIP BEND

STALLS

MOVE DIME SLIGHTLY FORWARD

DIVES TO THE FLOOR

MOVE DIME SLIGHTLY BACKWARD



DISCUSSION:

The shape of the Flying Wing is adapted from the zanonia seed which is found in southeast Asia. When mature, the seed drops from the vine and glides to a new location to reproduce itself.

To provide stability in flight, the wing tips of the Flying Wing are upturned. These tips appear to serve as drag rudders that keep the trailing edge of the wing trailing in flight. The presence of the upturned wing tips also directs air flowing over the wing tips upward. This results in a downward thrust that attempts to pitch the trailing edge of the Flying Wing downward around its center of gravity. The dime is taped to the underside of the leading edge of the Flying Wing to increase its weight there and balance the pitching tendency during gentle, gliding flight. At higher forward velocities, the downward thrust of the wing tips is magnified, pitching the trailing edge down and the leading edge up. The Flying Wing begins looping maneuvers and continues until drag slows it and the Flying Wing gently glides to the ground.



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Objects that Lift
Forces on a Glider


Aerospace Education Services Project
Oklahoma State University

 

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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Feb 11 2010

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