We explore the stability of flapping flight in a model system that consists of a pyramid-shaped object hovering in a vertically oscillating airflow. Such a flyer not only generates sufficient aerodynamic force to keep aloft but also robustly maintains balance during free flight. Flow visualization reveals that both weight support and orientational stability result from the periodic shedding of vortices. We explain these findings with a model of the flight dynamics, predict increasing stability for higher center of mass, and verify this counterintuitive fact by comparing top- and bottom-heavy flyers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)