Aerodynamics of a wing with a wingtip flapper

Longfei Zhao, Sergey Shkarayev, Erlong Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In the present study, an oscillating membrane flapper was pivotally attached to the tip of a conventional rigid wing. Stroke-averaged aerodynamic forces were measured for the range of the flapping frequency, showing significant increases in the lift coefficient and lift-to-drag ratio for the wing with a flapper. Major vortex patterns were deduced from observations of smoke-wire visualization and 2D phase-locked particle image velocimetry (PIV). The centerline of the primary vortex wanders in the counterclockwise direction. On the contrary, its core rotates in the same sense of rotation as a wingtip vortex in a conventional wing. The secondary weaker vortex of opposite rotation lasts for a half stroke. The vortex ring sheds from the flapper during the second half of the upstroke and pronation. The outer parts of the vortex system are much stronger than the inner ones. The circulation and size of vortices decrease significantly at the most distant station from the wing. Strong vertical jets were found in smoke-wire visualization and confirmed with velocity and vorticity fields obtained by PIV. These jets are formed between undulating vortices and inside of the vortex ring. The jet airflow moves away from the flapper and downward or upward depending on the flapping direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number29
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Drag
  • Flapping
  • Lift
  • Vortex
  • Wake
  • Wing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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