On unidirectional flight of a free flapping wing

Nicolas Vandenberghe, Stephen Childress, Jun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study the dynamics of a rigid, symmetric wing that is flapped vertically in a fluid. The motion of the wing in the horizontal direction is not constrained. Above a critical flapping frequency, forward flight arises as the wing accelerates to a terminal state of constant speed. We describe a number of measurements which supplement our previous work. These include (a) a study of the initial transition to forward flight near the onset of the instability, (b) the separate effects of flapping amplitude and frequency, (c) the effect of wing thickness, (d) the effect of asymmetry of the wing planform, and (e) the response of the wing to an added resistance. Our results emphasize the robustness of the mechanisms determining the forward-flight speed as observed in our previous study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014102
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • Aerodynamics
  • Biomechanics
  • External flows
  • Flow instability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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