MadSci Network: Physics

Re: If an airfoil is vibrated horizontally, will it creat lift?

Date: Sat Dec 10 09:22:56 2005
Posted By: Madhu Siddalingaiah, Physicist, author, consultant
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1134186284.Ph

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

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:

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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