Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Mark F. Reeder, PhD


An investigation into the effects of the propeller slipstream on a flexible wing micro-air-vehicle (MAV) was conducted. The Air Force Research Lab, Munitions Directorate designed a man-portable MAV with a 24 in. wingspan and 6 in. root chord to be used for battle damage assessment and reconnaissance. Two wings have been developed for this MAV. One is a rigid carbon-fiber wing and the other consists of flexible parachute material attached to a carbon-fiber skeleton. Experimental methods were implemented to investigate propeller and wing interactions, characterizing torque and thrust requirements on the motor along with aerodynamic forces on the aircraft as the wing was placed in various locations. Initially, the motor and propeller were mounted on an air bearing table and connected to a torque and load cell. A fuselage prototype was developed and built to mount the wing at multiple heights and distances from the propeller while keeping the same angle of attack. The airframe was attached to a six degree-of-freedom balance. A tri-axial hot-wire anemometer was used to capture velocity profiles in the wind tunnel to characterize propeller wake interactions. Momentum theory provided a method to extract drag and thrust from the velocity profiles. Propeller wake results indicate 12-18% of propeller thrust translates into aircraft drag while 25-45% of motor torque is countered by aircraft roll moment. Values depend on wing location. Results indicate that changing wing location is a viable option for improving pitch and yaw stability, without increasing power requirements.

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