Aerodynamics of flapping-wing micro air vehicles

Sergey Shkarayev, Dmitro Silin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

20 Scopus citations


The research study outlined in the paper addresses the aerodynamic features of flexible flapping wings used in micro air vehicles called ornithopters. Aerodynamic force measurements were conducted for the 25-cm and 74-cm-wing-span models at different airflow velocities and flapping frequencies. A series of experiments were conducted on the 25-cm flapping-wing model without free stream airflow. In order to study the effect of a dihedral on generated thrust and normal force, the model was modified to accommodate three values of dihedral angle. It appeared that the thrust force is higher for higher dihedral angle. Effects of a wing's bending stiffness and of the wing root constraint on the generated thrust force and required power were investigated. The aerodynamic forces on flapping wings were studied with the stroke plane angle varied from horizontal to vertical. An important result was found that flapping wings do not exhibit a typical, abrupt stall seen with the fixed wings. Experimental results were analyzed in the framework of the momentum theory. The results of this study were realized in micro ornithopter designs that was successfully flight tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Print)9781563479694
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

Name47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition


  • Dynamics
  • Experiments
  • Flapping
  • Flight
  • Lift
  • Ornithopter
  • Thrust
  • Wind tunnel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Aerospace Engineering


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