Essay on Aerodynamics and Aircraft Performance

1363 Words Jun 15th, 2014 6 Pages
Aerodynamics and Aircraft Performance
Characteristics of High-speed Flight

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

From the beginning of the age of manned flight, aviators and engineers have continuously sought to increase the performance envelope. Many parameters for defining aircraft performance exist, but here I’d like to focus on going fast. Since I was a child I’ve been fascinated with military aircraft and the pursuit of speed. From the Bell X-1 to the famed SR-71 Blackbird and beyond, high-speed flight has been a chase toward an ever increasing limit. Several factors contribute to the aerodynamics of supersonic flight and many limitations apply as the envelope is pushed. I will focus
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Essentially, a swept wing lessens the impact of the airflow against the leading edge. The formation of shock waves is delayed and the aircraft can fly faster. Examples of this principle can be seen in the construction of nearly every supersonic aircraft built after the mid 1950s. One of the most beautiful in my opinion is the SR-71 Blackbird. It looks like a dart or broad-head hunting arrow from afar. The Blackbird has a wing sweep of over 50 degrees with a surface area of nearly 1800 square feet (Kucher, 2010). For the size of the aircraft, the surface area isn’t overly large. This illustrates another design principle for high-speed aircraft in the reduced size of the wing. As speed increases, lift increases so the faster an aircraft can go the more lift it will produce thus requiring a smaller lifting surface to maintain flight. Of course, in order to go faster, more powerful engines are required. All supersonic aircraft utilize some type of turbine engine and typically have afterburning capability. Afterburning is limited in use since you’re basically injecting fuel into the exhaust nozzle, igniting it and turn an air-breathing combustion engine into a rocket motor. As you can imagine, this goes through the fuel rapidly and this technology is used primarily for take off under high load or to achieve escape

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