|MadSci Network: Physics|
Hi Frank, That's a good question. Not only is the answer yes, meaning it is possible to create lift by moving an airfoil back and forth, there are literally thousands of working examples found in nature. Birds, bats, and flying insects create lift using a means similar to what you propose. The flapping speed is not nearly as fast as you suggest, midges have the fastest wingbeat, at 62,760 beats per minute. Here is some information on the midge: http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/tfl.midge.html There are some differences between traditional airfoil models of flight and small flying insects. This is largely due to small size and weight of insects. You can read more about it here: http://www.nurseminerva.co.uk/adapt/flap1.htm Researchers are using insects as a model for building small flying machines or micro air vehicles (MAVs). Search on Google for insect flight or robofly or micro air vehicle. You will find lots of great information. Maybe you can build one of your own!
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