Engineers make mathematical predictions of the performance of any
as part of the
These predictions use the best data and mathematical techniques
which are available to the engineer.
For our full scale
of the Wright 1900 aircraft, we have also made mathematical predictions
of the aircraft performance.
These computations were performed by
Eric McFarland of NASA Glenn Research Center using a panel method
which is normally used to compute the flow through turbine engine
This program can compute the
interaction of the top and bottom wings, the canard, and the ground.
Panel Code Performance Predictions of Wright 1900 Aircraft Replica
The figure at the top of this page shows the pressure distribution
around the aircraft.
The computation was performed for a wind velocity of fifteen miles per hour, and the
aircraft flying five feet above the ground. The computed pressure is color coded and
you can determine the value of the pressure by comparing to the color bar.
With this computation, we see that most of the pressure changes take place
near the leading edge of the airfoil. The pressure on the upper surface of
each wing is lower than the pressure on the bottom surface. Notice that
the pressure on the top wing is slightly different than the pressure on
the bottom wing because the flow around each wing interacts with the other.
We can look at the computed data in a slightly different way to better
interpret the results of the calculation
Here we have plotted the computed pressure around the lower wing. The
"o"'s are the pressure on the upper surface, the "x"'s are the pressure
on the lower surface. This plot uses the same data that was used for
the contour plot; it is just presented differently. It's much easier
to see that the pressure on the lower surface is higher than the pressure
on the upper surface. And using this graph we can determine the exact
amount of the difference. Detailed data at
degrees angle of attack are presented on separate pages.
Using the information
from these cases, we can develop plots of the aircraft performance versus
angle of attack.
This analysis is performed for ideal flow conditions and can not predict
the wing stall which may occur for higher angles of attack. However,
we can use this data and the
to determine the angle of attack necessary to lift the aircraft in a
15 mph wind. If we take the average
(CL) of the top and bottom wing at 10 degrees angle of attack we get
an aircraft CL = .74. The replica has a wing area (A) = 170 square feet.
For the standard
the air density (r) is .00237 slug/cubic feet. This gives a lift (L) at
15 mph (V) and 10 degrees angle of attack of 68 pounds. [ L = CL * .5 * r * V^2 * A]
Since our aircraft weighs 60 pounds, it should fly at 10 degrees and 15 mph.
Compare this answer with the result from the simpler
analysis at the same conditions and you will find that the more detailed
prediction gives about
one half the lift of the simple analysis. A more detailed analysis usually
gives a more pessimistic answer because a simple analysis usually neglects
effects which can be important.
We can take the computed results and produce an
of the change in flight conditions.
Notice in the animation the large blue region (very low pressure)
which develops on the upper wing
and canard at 10 degrees angle of attack (the largest positive value).
This rather strong pressure
variation may cause the air flow to separate at these conditions.
- Re-Living the Wright Way
- Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics
- NASA Home Page