


WRIGHT FLYER ONLINE
Up, Up and Away
Secondary Lesson Plans
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 Pioneers of Scientific Method
Up, Up, and AwayAnalyzing Coefficient of Lift
Data
Wind tunnel test data
Up, Up, and AwayAnalyzing Coefficient of Lift
Data, Teacher Page
Bibliography (Resources)
Objectives
 Students will understand the historical significance of use of the
scientific method in developing the first airplane.
 Students will learn to appreciate the process involved in developing
a new technology
 Students will analyze a graph plotting angle of attach versus coefficient
of lift (C_{L}).
 Students will create a graph plotting angle of attach vs. C_{L}
for the data collected in the Wright Flyer wind tunnel data collected
at Ames Research Center.
 Students will compare and contrast atypical lift curve graph with
the graph they have created and will hypothesize reasons for any variations.
 Students will compare and contrast graphs from the full scale wind
tunnel testing with graphs from other tests conducted and models created
by the AIAA.
STANDARDS LINK
These activities support the following National Science Standards:
 Teaching Standard ATeachers of science plan an inquirybased science
program for their students.
 Teaching Standard BTeachers of science guide and facilitate learning.
 Teaching Standard ETeachers of science develop communities of science
learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and
the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning.
 Content Standard K12As a result of activities in grades K12, all
students should develop understanding and abilities aligned with the
following concepts and processes:
 systems, order, and organization
 evidence, models, and explanation
 constancy, change and measurement
 evolution and equilibrium
 Content Standard AAs a result of activities in grades 912, all students
should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry and understandings
about scientific inquiry.
 Content Standard BAs a result of their activities in grades 912,
all students should develop an understanding of motions and forces.
 Content Standard EAs a result of activities in grades 912, all students
should develop abilities of technological design and understandings
about science and technology.
 Content Standard GAs a result of activities in grades 912, all students
should develop understanding of science as a human endeavor, nature
of scientific knowledge, and historical perspectives.
 Program Standard BThe program of study for all students should be
developmentally appropriate, interesting, and relevant to student's
lives; emphasize student understanding through inquiry; and be connected
with other school subjects.
 Program Standard CThe science program should be coordinated with
the mathematics program to enhance student use and understanding of
mathematics in the study of science and to improve student understanding
of mathematics.
This activity supports the following National Mathematics Standards:
 Standard 1Mathematics as Problem Solving
In grades 912, the mathematics curriculum should include the refinement
and extension of methods of mathematical problem solving so that all
students can apply integrated mathematical problemsolving strategies
to solve problems from within and outside mathematics; recognize and
formulate problems from situations with and outside mathematics; and
apply the process of mathematical modeling to realworld problem situations.
 Standard 2Mathematics as Communication
In grades 912, the mathematics curriculum should include the continued
development of language and symbolism to communicate mathematical ideas
so that all students can reflect upon and clarify their thinking about
mathematical ideas and relationships.
 Standard 3Mathematics as Reasoning
In grades 912, the mathematics curriculum should include numerous and
varied experiences that reinforce and extend logical reasoning skills
so that all students can construct simple valid arguments.
 Standard 4Mathematical Connections
In grades 912, the mathematics curriculum should include investigation
of the connections and interplay among various mathematical topics and
their applications so that all students can use and value the connections
between mathematics and other disciplines.
 Standard 5Algebra
In grades 912, the mathematics curriculum should include the continued
study of algebraic concepts and methods so that all student can use
tables and graphs as tools to interpret expressions, equations, and
inequalities.
 Standard 6Functions
In grades 912, the mathematics curriculum should include the continued
study of functions so that all students can represent and analyze relationship
using tables, verbal rules, equations, and graphs.
 Standard 10Statistics
In grades 912, the mathematics curriculum should include the continued
study of data analysis and statistics so that all students can construct
and draw inferences from charts, tables, and graphs that summarize data
from realworld situations.

WRIGHT FLYER ONLINE
Pioneers of Scientific Method
Student Page


The Wright Brother were more than just bicycle mechanics that happened
onto an airplane design that actually flew. They used the scientific research
method in a way that we now take for granted but that was not common among
their contemporaries. They were among the first to systematically discover
the principles and formulas that would assure flight.
Probably their best scientific research was wind tunnel research. The
Wright Brothers had reason to suspect that airfoil data just accepted
as true was in fact flawed. They designed a wind tunnel to verify the
data. The Wrights conducted meticulous research with very detailed, accurate
records. All their work was carefully documented.
The Wright Brothers were not loners in their research. They contacted
the Smithsonian Institution for any and all available information. They
studied the work of other researchers and consulted with others in pursuit
of the dream of flying. They knew how to collaborate, argue, and keep
quiet at the appropriate times. It is said that the Wright Brothers were
excellent at playing devil's advocate. Orville would take one position
and Wilbur would argue the opposite point of view. Throughout the argument,
they would find that they had switched position and ended up arguing the
opposite viewpoint.
The Wright Brothers were truly pioneers in use of the scientific method,
and their methodical work resulted in the development of a technology
that has truly changed our way of life in the 20th century.
Activities:
 Research the work of Orville and Wilbur Wright and present examples
of their use of the scientific method. (Possible topics include:
propeller design, kite testing, glider testing, wing warping,
aileron design, engine design, etc.)
 Research methods of transportation in 1999. Report on the evolution
of modern transportation during the past 100 years.
 Conduct research to learn about the AIAA project to build, test,
and fly a 1903 Wright Flyer replica to commemorate the 100th Anniversary
of the first flight at Kitty Hawk. Prepare a presentation to share
what you have learned with other students.


WRIGHT FLYER ONLINE
Pioneers in Scientific Method
Teacher Page
The Wright Brothers provide an incredible example of the use of the scientific
method. The process they used is easy to understand and provides a great
model for students on how the scientific method is applied in the real
world. This activity provides the students with opportunities to delve
into the work of Orville and Wilbur. The first activity focuses just on
the work of the Wright Brothers. The second suggested activity is much
broader in its scope and allows students to investigate changes in transportation
methods that were the direct and indirect result of the work of the Wright
Brothers. The AIAA Project in and of itself is also very interesting.
Students will find it very informative to learn of the tenacity of the
engineers spearheading this project in the face of many challenges and
setbacks. Hopefully pursuing these activities will provide students with
the experience in using a variety of resources, including electronic media,
for obtaining information.
The student presentations are also an important part of this activity.
It is designed to help students learn to express their findings in a coherent,
understandable, and interesting manner. If possible, it is suggested that
students prepare multimedia presentations. This will help them learn how
to use multimedia presentation tools and techniques.
WRIGHT FLYER ONLINE
Up, Up, and AwayAnalyzing Coefficient of Lift Data
Student Page
MATERIALS NEEDED
 Graph Paper
 Calculator
 Graphing calculator (optional)
 Graph link and computer (optional)
Lift is the name given to the force that enables an airplane to rise
off of the ground. The lift must be greater than the weight of the airplane
for the airplane to be able to takeoff. Lift is a force and can be quantified
using the following formula:
force = pressure x area
Theoretically, the amount of lift obtained from a wing should be
proportional to the pressure and the wing area. In reality, the
lift force is not exactly equal to the product of pressure and area.
The portion of the force being transformed into lift is measured
by the coefficient of lift(C_{L}). C_{L} is determined
by dividing the measured lift by the dynamic pressure and the wing
area. The value for C_{L} varies with the angle of attack.
Angle of attack is measured between the airstream and an imaginary
line between the leading and trailing edges of the wing. The graph
shown (graph 1) represents a typical curve of angle of attack versus
coefficient of lift. This is called the lift curve.



QUESTIONS
 Why do you think C_{L} varies with the angle of attack.
 For a pilot, what is the advantage of plotting lift of coefficient
versus angle of attack.
 The maximum value on the yaxis is called the C_{L} max. What
information does this value provide?
 At approximately 14° the graph turns downward. How would you explain
this?
 As the graph turns downward, the negative slope can be gentle or abrupt.
How would expect the plane to react in each situation.
 The yintercept on this graph is .2 . Explain why the yintercept
is not 0.
 When would you expect the yintercept to be 0?
 What is determined by the slope of the lift curve?
 Between 0° and 14° , the lift curve is a straight line. What
conclusion can be drawn from this?
 For the graph given the C_{L} max is 1.4. Compare this wing
with one that has a C_{L} max of 1.0.
In preparation for the anniversary of the first flight of the Wright
Brothers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
has built a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. This replica will be tested
in the wind tunnels at Ames Research Center. (Data available March/April
1999?) Two of the data sets collected are angle of attack (alpha on
the data table) and coefficient of lift (C_{L}). Plot this data
using angle of attack as the independent variable (xaxis) and C_{L}
as the dependent variable (yaxis). You may create the plot manually,
use a computer, or a graphing calculator.
 Compare and contrast your graph with the one pictured above. Explain
the similarities and differences.
Shown on the graph below are graphs generated from computer modeling
and scale model testing. As part of the Wright Flyer Project, two member
of the Wright Flyer Project, have calculated some of the major aerodynamic
characteristic of the airplane. Using two different computer programs,
James Howford and Stephen Dwyer have calculated load distributions,
lift and pitching moment for the Flyer replica. Probably the best scientific
work by the Wright Brothers is their wind tunnel testing. They used
a small wind tunnel to validate some airfoil data obtained from other
researchers, but systematic wind tunnel tests of their complete aircraft
has never been found. To fill this gap in the data, two series of wind
tunnel tests have been conducted through the AIAA Wright Flyer Project.
The first used a 1/6 scale model built of wood and fabric, with steel
truss wires, very similar to the original airplane. The main goals of
the test was to obtain data about the effectiveness of wing warping.
The second set of wind tunnels test used a 1/8 stainless steel model.
 Why is the lift curve graph for the wood and fabric model different
from the lift curve graph for the steel model?
 Compare the graph you created from recent wind tunnel test data with
the graph from the testing of the wood and fabric model. Explain the
similarities and differences.
 Compare the graph you created from recent wind tunnel test data with
the graph from the testing of the steel model. Explain the similarities
and differences.
 Compare the graph you created from recent wind tunnel test data with
the graph from the computer model. Explain the similarities and differences.
 Which model seems to provide the closest model for the actual Wright
Flyer replica data? Support your conclusion.
Wind Tunnel Test Data
As stated earlier, for takeoff to occur the lift force that must overcome
the weight of the aircraft. Lift expected can be calculated from the
coefficient of lift data obtained in the wind tunnel testing. The formula
for this calculation is shown below.
Lift = Coefficient of lift x Area of the wing x Dynamic air pressure
This can be expressed using in the following manner using variables:
F_{L} = C_{L} x S x q
The wing area on the Wright Flyer is 500 ft^{2}. The dynamic
pressure in the tunnel will be 2.05 lb./ft^{2}. (Note: You will
notice that English units are used. Since the aeronautics industry began
in the United States, the world accepts and uses the units commonly
used in the United States.)
Using the wind tunnel test data runs
43 and 44 and the formula above, complete the following table.
Alpha

Coefficient of Lift

Lift


























If the replica of the Wright Flyer weighs 750 lbs.,
what is the minimum angle of attack required to overcome the weight
and allow the Flyer to leave the ground?
WRIGHT FLYER ONLINE
Up, Up, and AwayAnalyzing Coefficient of Lift Data
Teacher Page
Vision
Graphing is a skill that many students find tedious and boring. The availability
of graphing calculators has eliminated some of the tedium, but students
still don't seem to grasp the value of graphing. This activity provides
students the opportunity to graph actual data from a test being conducted
in a real world setting. They are creating the same graphs that will be
created and analyzed by the AIAA engineers spearheading the Wright Flyer
Project. Hopefully participating in this project will lead students to
an understanding of the value of visual representations of data and the
analyses that can be conducted using this visual representations.
DISCLAIMER
As part of this activity, the students are provided with a typical lift
curve for aircraft. The point where the curve turns and the slope becomes
negative is where stall occurs. As this activity was discussed with the
engineer in charge of the Wright Flyer Wind Tunnel Testing, he was concerned
that during the testing the angle of attack may not reach the point where
stall will occur. This was not seen as a problem because it provides the
students with the opportunity to speculate on reasons for the differences.
Since we do not know exactly how the model will respond in the test (hence
the reason for the testing), it is impossible to predict in advance what
the graphs generated from the data will reveal. When the data is obtained
and the graphs are generated, more information will be provided to help
you as teachers guide your students through this analysis.
Answers to Activity Questions
 Why do you think C_{L} varies with the angle of attack.
Coefficient of lift is how efficiently the wing is transforming dynamic
pressure into lift. With a greater angle of attack, the efficiency increases
to a certain angle.
 For a pilot, what is the advantage of plotting lift of coefficient
versus angle of attack.
Coefficient of lift increases as the angle of attack increases. Therefore
lift increases. The advantage of the lift curve is that it tells the
C_{L} and therefore lift available for a certain angle of attack.
 The maximum value on the yaxis is called the C_{L} max. What
information does this value provide?
As the angle of attack increases, lift will not increase indefinitely.
There comes a point where the angle is too steep and the C_{L}
plummets. This is called the stalling point. The aircraft will then
drop because the weight is greater than lift. The pilot must make sure
the angle of attack stays below this value.
 At approximately 14° the graph turns downward. How would you explain
this?
As the angle increases, the airflow will separate from the top of
the wing producing a wake of turbulent air over this surface. There
is still some pressure on the lower wing surface, but this decreased
amount of lift is not enough to overcome gravity.
 As the graph turns downward, the negative slope can be abrupt or gentle.
How would expect the plane to react in each situation?
A very abrupt dropoff indicates a sudden stall and a gentle change
in slope indicates a more gradual stall.
 The yintercept on this graph is .2 . Explain why the yintercept
is not 0.
The graph provided with this activity is for a cambered wing. (If
the distance from the chordline to one surface is greater than the distance
to the other surface, the wing is cambered.) On this particular graph,
the angle of attack must go to negative 2 for zero lift.
 When would you expect the yintercept to be 0?
If the wing or airfoil is symmetrical, a zero angle of attack will
produce a coefficient of lift of zero.
 What is determined by the slope of the lift curve?
The slope of the curve determines how rapidly C_{L} increases
with the angle of attack.
 Between 0°f and 14° , the lift curve is a straight line. What
conclusion can be drawn from this?
The straight line indicates that C_{L} is directly proportional
to the angle of attack.
 For the graph given the C_{L} max is 1.4. Compare this wing
with one that has a C_{L} max of 1.0.
This wing would produce more lift before stall than the wing with
a lower C_{L} max.
 Compare and contrast your graph with the one pictured above. Explain
the similarities and differences.
More information on this will be provided when the wind tunnel test
data is available.
 Why is the lift curve graph for the wood and fabric model different
from the lift curve graph for the steel model?
The wood and fabric model was more fragile than the steel model.
Some of the results may be biased due to distortions of the wing surface.
 Compare the graph you created from recent wind tunnel test data with
the graph from the testing of the wood and fabric model. Explain the
similarities and differences.
One of the main purposed of the tests using the wood and fabric model
was to obtain data for the effectiveness of wing warping. The structure
was relatively fragile and suffered damage and warping during the test.
 Compare the graph you created from recent wind tunnel test data with
the graph from the testing of the steel model. Explain the similarities
and differences.
This model allowed engineers to test using more realistic conditions
without damaging the model. Because the steel model has larger struts
for strength at the higher test speeds, the minimum drag coefficient
is large than that for the fabric model
 Compare the graph you created from recent wind tunnel test data with
the graph from the computer model. Explain the similarities and differences.
The liftcurve measured with the steel model is very closely matched
by the calculation based on the theoretical computer model. This suggests
that the Wright Brothers had an incredible understanding of aerodynamics.
 Which model seems to provide the closest model for the actual Wright
Flyer replica data? Support your conclusion?
Information on this question cannot be provided until after the tests
are completed.
 If the replica of the Wright Flyer weighs 750 lbs., what is the minimum
angle of attack required to overcome the weight and allow the Flyer
to leave the ground?
Use the chart created to determine where the lift first exceeds 750
lbs.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Wright, Orville and edited with an introduction and commentary by Kelly,
Fred C. How We Invented the Airplane: An Illustrated History. Dover
Pulications, Inc. New York. 1988.
Smith, H. C. "Skip". The Illustrated Guide to Aerodynamics
(2nd Edition). Tab Books, A Division of McGrawHill, Inc. New York.
1992.
Hecht, Eugene. Physics: Algebra/Trig (2nd Edition). Brooks/Cole
Publishing Company. Pacific Grove. 1998.
Jex, Henry R. and Culick, Fred E. C. Flight Control Dynamics of the
1903 Wright Flyer. AIAA Paper no. 851804CP. AIAA 12th Atmospheric
Flight Mechanics Conference. Snowmass, Colorado. August 1921, 1985.
A special thanks to Mr. Craig Hainge at NASA Ames Research Center
.

