Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Patrick Currier, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Charles Reinholtz, PhD


Analysis and testing have been conducted to assess the feasibility of a small UAV that can be landed in the water and recovered for continued use. Water landings may be desirable in a number of situations, for example when testing UAVs outside of the territorial waters of the US to avoid violating FAA regulations. Water landings may also be desirable when conducting surveillance missions in marine environments. Although the goal in landing is to have the UAV lightly set down on the water, rough seas or gusty winds may result in a nose-in landing where the UAV essentially impacts the surface of the water. The tested UAV is a flying wing design constructed of expanded polypropylene foam wings with a hollowed out center-section for the avionics. Acceleration data was collected by means of LIS331 3-axis accelerometers positioned at five locations, including the wingtips. This allowed conclusions to be drawn with respect to the loads experienced on impact throughout the airframe. This data was also used to find loads corresponding to the maximum decelerations experienced during impact. These loads were input into a finite element analysis model of the wing spars to determine stress in the wing spars. Upon impact, the airframe experienced high-frequency oscillation. Surprisingly, peak accelerations at the wingtips were observed at up to 15g greater than corresponding accelerations at the center of the fuselage.