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 biomimetic micro air vehicle (MAV). Three small scale flapping mechanisms capable of single plane flapping, flapping with active pitch control, and flapping/pitch with out-of-plane movement were designed using SolidWorks. The flapping-only model was fabricated on an Objet Eden 500V 3-dimensional printer. The flapping mechanism was mounted on an aluminum plate supported by air bearings, and thrust was measured for a variety of conditions. The testing was conducted using wings composed of carbon fiber and Mylar in four different size configurations, with flapping speeds ranging from 3.5 – 15 Hertz. The thrust was measured using an axially mounted 50 gram load cell which resulted in an accuracy of ± 0.1 gram. Non-dimensional thrust and power numbers were computed. The flapping mechanism was then mounted on a 6-component force balance to measure dynamic loading, which demonstrated the ability to gather time-accurate data within a single flapping stroke at speeds as high as 15 Hz. High speed cameras operated at 1500 Hz were also used for capturing images of the structure of the wing for various testing conditions. Overall this research successfully demonstrated both qualitative and quantitative testing procedures that can be utilized in developing small scale flapping-wing micro air vehicles.

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DTIC Accession Number