Aerodynamics Naive #1 – deriving the Ping-Pong airfoil polar diagrams

This is the ping-pong aerodynamic analogy. The wing is a ping pong bat and the air is a bunch of evenly spaced array of ping pong balls. It is a naive model but, as we will see in a later post, the polar diagrams derived from this analogy (between -12 to +12 degrees of angle of attack) are surprisingly close shape wise to the real diagrams of a thin, symmetric airfoil. The model of course cannot possibly calculate anything related to what happens on the upper part of the foil. Later on, we will use the formulas derived here to create a 2D dynamic model of a glider and experient with things such as stability and pitch oscillation during flight, function of various position of the center of gravity and interaction with the momentum of inertia of the plane. This tutorial is fairly easy to understand (with the proper concentration) at the high school level and can be a good casual first step in understanding general flight dynamics.

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