Date of Award

Summer 2022

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Daewon Kim

First Committee Member

Alberto Mello

Second Committee Member

Jeff R. Brown

Third Committee Member

Joe Martin


In this report, a quasi-static load analysis is conducted on an experimental light sport aircraft wing via a whiffletree bending test. This report will discuss the loads present on the aircraft during straight level flight at a speed of 82 knots equivalent air speed. Flight load calculations are described along with the design of the whiffletree and mounting structures utilized for applying the distributed point loads. Initial finite element analysis is performed on the wing structure to determine critical strain locations and optimal sensor distribution. Subsequent mechanical experimentations are performed using a bending test to measure the strain at critical locations along the wing structure using resistive uniaxial strain gauges. To verify the applied load distribution is accurate, the load on the critical connecting rod is evaluated during experimentation. The accuracy of the finite element method is compared to the data calculated using the strain gauges. Additionally, the displacement of the wing structure is compared to that of the finite element model. Recommendations for future experimentation to improve the model and whiffletree structure are discussed. From the results, it is evident that an accurate representation of the distributed flight load was applied to the wing structure test article. Utilizing the three data sets collected, the standard deviation in the strain gauge data was analyzed to identify potential outliers that indicate sensor malfunction. Comparing the experimental and finite element results, it is clear that both models are sufficient in accurately representing the strain distribution about the forward spar and front stringer but vary in strain measurements along the aft spar. This variation is likely due to oversimplifications in the finite element model.