Title

Late Morning Concurrent Sessions: Innovations in Aviation Technologies: Presentation: Wingsuit Materials Research – The Effect of Currently Used Materials on Wingsuit Aerodynamics.

Location

San Marcos Ballroom B

Topic Area

OTHER - PLEASE SPECIFY

Other Topic Area

Wingsuit materials research and wingsuit aerodynamics.

Abstract

While wingsuit flight is exhilarating and one of the fastest growing facets of sport skydiving, current wingsuit performance is poor at best. A sailplane purpose built for maximum glide ratio might have a glide ratio of 30:1 (30 feet of forward motion for every 1 foot of altitude loss). A Cessna 172, general aviation aircraft has a power off glide ratio of 9:1.

Expert, world class wingsuit pilots can barely maintain steady-state glide ratios significantly greater than 3:1. Our project’s long term goal is to significantly increase the glide ratio performance of wingsuit flight.

Research to develop the next generation of wingsuit has to ask the question, even before designing wings or configurations: Of what material will new wingsuit designs be made? There is little in the literature about the effect on aerodynamic lift of fabrics at the airspeeds and Reynolds numbers at which wingsuits operate. This research begins to fill that gap in the current literature.

Wind tunnel research examining the aerodynamic properties of currently used wingsuit construction materials and various currently used combinations of materials were tested. Testing was done in the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Doryland Wind Tunnel Laboratory in Prescott, Arizona. This low-speed wind tunnel with a 32” x 45” test section was used to test the range of fabrics used for current wingsuit designs through a range of airspeeds from 60 to 140 knots. This covers the range of normal wingsuit flight. A baseline low aspect ratio wing, with a span of 24” and a chord of 12”, using a NACA 4418 airfoil, and with a smooth painted surface typical of a normal aircraft was fabricated. The lift and drag of this wing was measured through the range of airspeeds tested. The wing upper and lower surfaces were then clad with the fabrics currently used in wingsuit construction and the lift and drag of the wing again measured and compared to the baseline smooth wing.

The results show significant differences in the aerodynamic properties of the materials tested and point to logical preferences of materials to construct next generation wingsuit designs. From this information, estimations of possible lift and drag of proposed new wingsuit configurations could be derived to predict glide ratio performance. The information already collected also shows unexpected relationships of fabric roughness with aerodynamic performance and increased speed. This is the first step in development of a next generation wingsuit with increased performance and safety.

Start Date

16-1-2016 11:00 AM

End Date

16-1-2016 12:15 PM

Chair/Note/Host

Co-Chairs: Vahid Motevalli, Tennessee Technical University; Bruce Conway, ERAU-WW

Keywords

Aviation, Wingsuit, Materials, Wingsuit Materials, Aerodynamics, Wingsuit Aerodynamics, Lift, Drag, Wind Tunnel, Wingsuit Materials Research

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Jan 16th, 11:00 AM Jan 16th, 12:15 PM

Late Morning Concurrent Sessions: Innovations in Aviation Technologies: Presentation: Wingsuit Materials Research – The Effect of Currently Used Materials on Wingsuit Aerodynamics.

San Marcos Ballroom B

While wingsuit flight is exhilarating and one of the fastest growing facets of sport skydiving, current wingsuit performance is poor at best. A sailplane purpose built for maximum glide ratio might have a glide ratio of 30:1 (30 feet of forward motion for every 1 foot of altitude loss). A Cessna 172, general aviation aircraft has a power off glide ratio of 9:1.

Expert, world class wingsuit pilots can barely maintain steady-state glide ratios significantly greater than 3:1. Our project’s long term goal is to significantly increase the glide ratio performance of wingsuit flight.

Research to develop the next generation of wingsuit has to ask the question, even before designing wings or configurations: Of what material will new wingsuit designs be made? There is little in the literature about the effect on aerodynamic lift of fabrics at the airspeeds and Reynolds numbers at which wingsuits operate. This research begins to fill that gap in the current literature.

Wind tunnel research examining the aerodynamic properties of currently used wingsuit construction materials and various currently used combinations of materials were tested. Testing was done in the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Doryland Wind Tunnel Laboratory in Prescott, Arizona. This low-speed wind tunnel with a 32” x 45” test section was used to test the range of fabrics used for current wingsuit designs through a range of airspeeds from 60 to 140 knots. This covers the range of normal wingsuit flight. A baseline low aspect ratio wing, with a span of 24” and a chord of 12”, using a NACA 4418 airfoil, and with a smooth painted surface typical of a normal aircraft was fabricated. The lift and drag of this wing was measured through the range of airspeeds tested. The wing upper and lower surfaces were then clad with the fabrics currently used in wingsuit construction and the lift and drag of the wing again measured and compared to the baseline smooth wing.

The results show significant differences in the aerodynamic properties of the materials tested and point to logical preferences of materials to construct next generation wingsuit designs. From this information, estimations of possible lift and drag of proposed new wingsuit configurations could be derived to predict glide ratio performance. The information already collected also shows unexpected relationships of fabric roughness with aerodynamic performance and increased speed. This is the first step in development of a next generation wingsuit with increased performance and safety.