Warping Wings

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Warping Wings

#1 Post by admin » Fri Jan 22, 2016 7:11 pm

Future aircraft wings will ripple with adaptive, shape-shifting, quiet moving parts rather than noisy hinged flaps.

Interesting article on future wing design that may have potential. Instead of current control surface technology - ailerons, elevators, rudders, flaps, etc. with composite material technology may be possible to change the shape of the whole wing. Bit like what a bird does.


Over a century ago, the aviators who followed the Wright Brothers into the air suddenly turned away from building rickety wood-and-wire flying machines that physically warped the shape of their canvas wings – the design that had taken the Wrights into the sky.

Instead, aeroplane builders like the Wrights' arch-rival Glenn Curtiss used hinged flaps as ailerons (a movable surface on the wing which helps the aircraft turn), partly in an attempt to evade the Wrights' patent – but also because continually flexing a wooden wing could lead to structural failure.

Since then aviation has been wedded to these hinged control surface: rudders, elevators, flaps, ailerons and spoilers all work on this kind of principle, changing the shape of the wing or tail to help the aircraft move in a particular direction. But this design tradition could change as researchers in Europe and the US begin to harness today's tougher, stretchier materials and wing-warping motors to revisit the idea of the shape-shifting flight surfaces originally hatched by Orville and Wilbur Wright.


Re: Warping Wings

#2 Post by MoreAviation » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:54 am

Curtiss was actually in violation of a previous patent on the hinged control surface and insouciantly battled the Wrights in court for what they claimed was his infringement of their "warped wing" concept... The original aileron patent was taken out in 1868 by a British inventor named Mathew P. W. Boulton. Curtiss didn't care for either party and went his own sweet way with impunity.


Re: Warping Wings

#3 Post by MoreAviation » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:47 pm

This interesting thread got me to reading a bit more about the invention of the aileron... the area is perforce a complex one (the area of patent law I mean).

I enclose the Wikipedia link for more information about Boulton who was a prodigious polymath by all accounts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_P ... tt_Boulton

and this from AirSpace magazine.

As early as 1868, Englishman Matthew Piers Watt Boulton patented a system of lateral flight control involving what would later be called ailerons. Wrote historian C.H. Gibbs-Smith in his 1960 book, The Aeroplane, this was “…one of the most remarkable inventions…of aeronautical history, which was immediately lost sight of.”

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Charles Renard, Alphonse Pénaud, and Louis Mouillard either described horizontal control surfaces on the trailing edge of wings or incorporated them into experimental craft. Gibbs-Smith insisted that these were air brakes, however, intended to increase the drag on one wing to control yaw, not roll.

In the mid- to late 1800s, Jean-Marie LeBris, John Montgomery, Clement Ader, D.D. Wells, Edson F. Gallaudet, and Hugo Mattullath all suggested some form of what would become known as wing warping, or applied it to unmanned kites or a full-scale machine. None were successful at using the technique to achieve active control, nor did they envision combining wing warping with a rudder to counteract differential drag or to achieve coordinated turns— an essential feature of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s patent. The Wrights were the first to successfully employ such a system on piloted gliders and powered aircraft. The Wrights and their lawyer, Harry Toulmin, crafted the patent to include lateral control achieved by mechanical means other than wing warping, but which relied on the principles they were claiming legal protection for. From Patent 821,393: “[O]ur invention is not limited to [wing warping], since any construction whereby the angular relations of the lateral margins of the aeroplanes [wings] may be varied in opposite directions with respect to the normal planes of…aeroplanes comes within the scope of our invention.”

The essential idea was to obtain lateral control by varying the lift on either wing. The mechanical means of achieving that end are secondary.

In every instance, the courts that heard arguments involving the Wright patent ruled in favor of the brothers, affirming the view that ailerons were among the “other means” of achieving lateral control for which the Wrights deserved legal protection.

French experimenter Robert Esnault-Pelterie moved from wing warping to ailerons, French for “little wings,” in 1904. In his design, the two surfaces were placed between the two wings, forward of the leading edge. “The warping of the surfaces, preferred by the Wright brothers and used on our aircraft,” he said in a January 1905 talk before the Aéro-Club de France, “gives good enough results for the maintenance of transverse equilibrium, but…may, in our opinion, cause excessive strains on the wiring, and so we fear breakages…which cannot occur with the ordinary rigid [trussed] system…. We therefore choose to abandon warping. [T]o…control lateral balance, we…employed at the front two independent horizontal rudders (“deux gouvernails horizontaux”), one placed in front toward the end of each wing…attached to a steering device within reach of…the operator…. The arrangement gave satisfaction, although…not as powerful as…wing-warping….”

In December 1906, the editor of L’Aérophile described the pivoting control surfaces mounted in the outer bays of Alberto Santos Dumont’s 14-bis as “gouvernails auxiliares.” In reporting the flight of the Aerial Experiment Association’s White Wing in upstate New York in May 1908, L’Aérophile described the wingtip control surfaces as being “like those of Robert Esnault-Pelterie.” L’Aérophile did not use the word “aileron” until July 1908.

Read more: http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/oldies-and-oddities-where-do-ailerons-come-from-40077712/#OQbF4dSj33XdPjqw.99

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Re: Warping Wings

#4 Post by Stoneboat » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:07 pm

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Re: Warping Wings

#5 Post by Dirk » Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:09 pm

I have been watching Red Kites lately, their flight is a little unusual in the marked use of their horizontal tail as a roll control, they twist it with subsequently much less use of wing warping.
(many birds do this, but none I have observed do so to such a degree)

My own observations, no idea if it's been studied much, but it very apparent if you spend time close to them in flight.
elevons have been used in some conventional tailed aircraftas well as deltas and flying wings of course, the sepecat Jaguar comes to mind, in combination with spoilerons
I've yet to see an aerodynamic control scheme that wasnt pre-empted by Nature

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