Aerodynamics comes full circle with a new twist

 - May 8, 2008, 9:21 AM

Last month NASA made the first flight of an experimental “wing warping” Boeing F/A-18 flying testbed. In 1903 the Wright Brothers used wires connected to their control column to twist the wings of their Flyer, changing the airfoils’ shape to provide differential lift to control bank. NASA calls the 21st century version of wing warping the “active aeroelastic wing,” or AAW. The wings have thinner skins than a conventional F/A-18, allowing the outer wing panels to twist up to five degrees. NASA Dryden’s AAW project manager Denis Bessette said, “Morphing technology will create wings that bend and shape themselves for aircraft control and efficient flight from low to high speeds, and from low to high altitudes.”