Wake Development behind Paired Wings with Tip and Root Trailing Vortices: Consequences for Animal Flight Force Estimates


Recent experiments on flapping flight in animals have shown that a variety of unrelated species shed a wake behind left and right wings consisting of both tip and root vortices. Here we present an investigation using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) of the behaviour and interaction of trailing vortices shed by paired, fixed wings that simplify and mimic the wake of a flying animal with a non-lifting body. We measured flow velocities at five positions downstream of two adjacent NACA 0012 aerofoils and systematically varied aspect ratio, the gap between the wings (corresponding to the width of a non-lifting body), angle of attack, and the Reynolds number. The range of aspect ratios and Reynolds number where chosen to be relevant to natural fliers and swimmers, and insect flight in particular. We show that the wake behind the paired wings deformed as a consequence of the induced flow distribution such that the wingtip vortices convected downwards while the root vortices twist around each other. Vortex interaction and wake deformation became more pronounced further downstream of the wing, so the positioning of PIV measurement planes in experiments on flying animals has an important effect on subsequent force estimates due to rotating induced flow vectors. Wake deformation was most severe behind wings with lower aspect ratios and when the distance between the wings was small, suggesting that animals that match this description constitute high-risk groups in terms of measurement error. Our results, therefore, have significant implications for experimental design where wake measurements are used to estimate forces generated in animal flight. In particular, the downstream distance of the measurement plane should be minimised, notwithstanding the animal welfare constraints when measuring the wake behind flying animals.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091040

Extracted Key Phrases

6 Figures and Tables

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Horstmann2014WakeDB, title={Wake Development behind Paired Wings with Tip and Root Trailing Vortices: Consequences for Animal Flight Force Estimates}, author={Jan Tobias Horstmann and Per Henningsson and Adrian Lloyd Thomas and Richard J Bomphrey}, booktitle={PloS one}, year={2014} }