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The Minimum Induced Drag of Wings
April 25th, 2016 7:30pm
Birds Don't Have Vertical Tails, and Would This Work on Mars?
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The Minimum Induced Drag of Wings: Birds Don't Have Vertical Tails, and Would This Work on Mars?


The original model of flight was the flight of birds. The Wright Brothers added the vertical tail to their aircraft, and today we continue to use some method of direct yaw control. But why don't birds need vertical tails? The solution to this problem is a story, the story of what we're missing. And how the minimum drag of wings, the minimum structure of a wing, and why birds don't need vertical tails all intersect. And it's the story of a small model airplane, properly instrumented as a research UAV, a team of dedicated and incredibly bright young people, and the dream of flying the first aircraft on Mars. An old man of the sky and young people who figured out the minimum drag of wings, why birds do what they do, and flight on Mars.


AL BOWERS (above photo) is the Chief Scientist at the NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base. Al spent 33 years working for NASA as a research aerodynamicist and as chief engineer of many aircraft projects including the NASA F-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle, the NASA SR-71s, and the NASA Kelly Eclipse Aerotow F-106 project. Al was an aerodynamicist on the F-8 Oblique Wing, the X-30 National Aerospace Plane, and the X-29 Forward Swept Wing. Al has also served as the Chief of Aerodynamics, the Deputy Director of Research and Engineering, the Special Assistant to the Associate Director of Aeronautics in Washington DC, the Director of Aeronautics Projects, and now as the Chief Scientist. Al has spent over 20 years working on the problem of flying wings, how birds fly without vertical tails, and the dream of flight on Mars.


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