Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aeronautical Engineering Class

I am taking an aeronautical engineering class from this retired aeronautical engineer named Norm Stein.  One of the helicopters he designed is in the Hiller Aviation Museum.  He knows everything that has to do with airplanes and helicopters.  In the first half of class he would teach basic plane theory.  For the second half we all would work on our own balsa wood and tissue paper model airplanes.  So far we have learned about wing load, three types of drag and ways to calculate them.  One of the kids is designing his own plane during class.

The teacher has a homemade glider in his side yard.  It is set up on a cable system so that it can be raised and flown down the cable.  He lets his students fly it after class.  I got to fly it yesterday and recorded acceleration data on my phone.  It was fun because it had all of the controls of normal airplanes (for example, elevator, ailerons, and rudder)  It did not go fast enough for the controls to make too much of a difference (eg. you could not hit a tree because you turned too far). 



Here I am on the glider. 



Here is a graph of the acceleration data.  In the beginning I put my phone into my pocket.  The other kids in the class pulled the glider back.  And then they let go of the glider (with me in it).  The phone was supposed to be recording data the whole time.  For some reason it stopped recording data and then resumed recording at the end.  There is about 10 seconds of missing data.  I am going to fly on it again and try to get better data.