The thrust and lift of an ornithopter's membrane wings with simple flapping motion

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68 Citations (Scopus)


Human beings flying with the help of aircrafts of various kinds have been able to fly for about one century. Although the flapping wings of animals served as an inspiration to pioneers of human flight, we don't really understand how they work. In this study, we employ the concept of four-bar linkage to design a flapping mechanism which simulates a flapping motion of a bird. Wind tunnel tests were performed to measure the lift and thrust of the mechanical membrane flapping wing under different frequency, speed, and angle of attack. It is observed that the flexibility of the wing structure will affect the thrust and lift force due to its deformation at high flapping frequency. The lift force will increase with the increase of the flapping frequency under the corresponding flying speed. For the same flapping frequency, the flying speed can be increased by decrease of the angle of attack with the trade of loosing some lift force. An angle of attack is necessary in a simple flapping motion in order to derive a lift force. The flapping motion generates the thrust to acquire the flying speed. The flying speed and angle of attack combine to generate the lift force for flying.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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