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Flight Mechanics of the Wright Aircraft 1903-1912

Papachristodoulou, A. N. and Culick, F. E. C. (2003) Flight Mechanics of the Wright Aircraft 1903-1912. AIAA Papers, AIAA-2003-0097. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics . http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20101118-085016796

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Abstract

Perhaps the most curious aspect of the Wright Brothers' program to invent and commercialize the airplane is their decision in 1900 to use their novel canard configuration, and to persist with that geometry until 1910 despite the known deficiency that the aircraft were unstable in pitch. The reasons for their initial choice are well-known. Several studies in the part twenty years have proven beyond doubt that the Wrights did not intentionally make their canards unstable. The pitch instability of their machine was an unwitting byproduct of their design chosen partly out of fear of the conventional design and partly (they reasoned) for more positive control. With their great emphasis on control, the Wrights were able to develop a successful aircraft, albeit difficult to fly additionally because the 1903 aircraft also possessed a fast spiral instability. A canard design is not necessarily unstable, but owing chiefly to their airfoil, and an unfortunate fore-and-aft mass distribution, the Wright canards were all unstable. Though easier to fly, their 1909 aircraft was more unstable than the famous 1903 Flyer and the Brothers did not have a stable design until they finally adopted a conventional aft horizontal tail in 1910. Successful control of the canard aircraft depended heavily on large damping-in-pitch. The purpose of this paper is to apply modern analysis of flight mechanics to trace the detailed flying characteristics of their powered aircraft from 1903 to 1910 when they finally gave up the canard. Its a story in which technology, stubborness and commercialization are intimately mingled; we are concerned here only with the technology.


Item Type:Report or Paper (Technical Report)
Additional Information:© 2003 by A. N. Papchristodoulou and F. E. C. Culick. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics with permission.
Group:Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Guggenheim Jet Propulsion CenterUNSPECIFIED
AIAA2003-0097
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101118-085016796
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20101118-085016796
Official Citation:AIAA-2003-0097 Flight Mechanics of the Wright Aircraft 1903-1912 F. Culick and A. Papachristodoulou, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:20878
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:18 Nov 2010 18:27
Last Modified:26 Dec 2012 12:39

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