Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Mark F. Reeder, PhD


The purpose of this research was to develop testing methods capable of analyzing the performance of a miniature flapping-wing mechanism that can later be adapted to a flapping wing micro air vehicle (MAV). A previously designed and built flapping only mechanism was used for testing, while a previously designed flapping and pitch mechanism was fabricated utilizing an Objet Eden 500V 3-dimensional printer and its operation demonstrated. The flapping mechanism was mounted on a six component force balance. Force and moment data were collected for a variety of wing sets at different flapping frequencies. The testing was conducted using wings composed of aluminum tubing and/or stainless steel wire for frame material, and thin latex as membrane material. The normal and axial force averages were taken with the force balance and compared. The axial force measurement was verified using an air bearing table and a load cell as a secondary means of measurement. Time accurate force data was also taken. A non-intrusive photogrammetry method using laser dot projection was developed allowing for the shape of the wing during flapping to be measured. The result was that approximately 98 data points representing wing shape and orientation were collected at 1000 Hz. Comparisons were made between laser dot projection photogrammetry and a more a traditional method using potentially intrusive marked targets for photogrammetry, with good correspondence. Differences in force data were then analyzed with the insight gained regarding wing shape. This research demonstrates the capability to study the forces and moments involved in flapping flight as well as shape changing of wings during flapping flight.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number