The Bicycle Apparatus
How it worked
The Wrights examined all the terms in the lift
and drag equations. Some values—weight of the craft,
wind speed, and wing surface area—could be directly
measured, so the Wrights were confident of their accuracy.
But the coefficients of lift and drag and Smeaton’s
coefficient were drawn from the work of others. The brothers
focused on these as the possible source of their gliders’
poor lift performance.
Calculations and results
They recorded the angle of the wing to the
airflow at which the air pressure on the wing shape balanced
the air pressure on the plate. This is called the angle of
attack.
Then they calculated what Lilienthal’s data indicated
the angle should have been. The model wing required more than
three times the angle of attack than Lilienthal’s data
predicted.
The Wrights concluded that either Lilienthal’s data
or Smeaton’s coefficient—or both—were in
error.
Go to The Wright Wind Tunnel >>
