Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 945–961 | Cite as

Experimental investigation of a flapping wing model

  • Tatjana Y. HubelEmail author
  • Cameron Tropea
Research Article


The main objective of this research study was to investigate the aerodynamic forces of an avian flapping wing model system. The model size and the flow conditions were chosen to approximate the flight of a goose. Direct force measurements, using a three-component balance, and PIV flow field measurements parallel and perpendicular to the oncoming flow, were performed in a wind tunnel at Reynolds numbers between 28,000 and 141,000 (3–15 m/s), throughout a range of reduced frequencies between 0.04 and 0.20. The appropriateness of quasi-steady assumptions used to compare 2D, time-averaged particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements in the wake with direct force measurements was evaluated. The vertical force coefficient for flapping wings was typically significantly higher than the maximum coefficient of the fixed wing, implying the influence of unsteady effects, such as delayed stall, even at low reduced frequencies. This puts the validity of the quasi-steady assumption into question. The (local) change in circulation over the wing beat cycle and the circulation distribution along the wingspan were obtained from the measurements in the tip and transverse vortex planes. Flow separation could be observed in the distribution of the circulation, and while the circulation derived from the wake measurements failed to agree exactly with the absolute value of the circulation, the change in circulation over the wing beat cycle was in excellent agreement for low and moderate reduced frequencies. The comparison between the PIV measurements in the two perpendicular planes and the direct force balance measurements, show that within certain limitations the wake visualization is a powerful tool to gain insight into force generation and the flow behavior on flapping wings over the wing beat cycle.


Particle Image Velocimetry Flow Separation Lift Coefficient Particle Image Velocimetry Measurement Pitching Moment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fachgebiet Strömungslehre und AerodynamikTechnische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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