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Aerodynamics Subsection

Aerodynamics is a subset of the general field of fluid dynamics.  Fluids include both liquids and gases, and GW has experience with all of it.  Air is a gas, so “aerodynamics” deals with air flow, while the more general term “gas dynamics” deals with any gas.

There are two kinds of aerodynamics from a geometry standpoint: flow inside pipes or other structures such as engine inlets (“internal aerodynamics”), and flow outside and around structures (“external aerodynamics”).

There are also five kinds of aerodynamics from the standpoint of behavioral response to flow speed range:   low-speed aerodynamics or “incompressible flow” (Mach 0 to about 0.5); subsonic compressible aerodynamics (up to about Mach 0.8 or 0.9), transonic aerodynamics (Mach 0.8 to about 1.2); supersonic aerodynamics (Mach 1.2 to about Mach 3 or 4); and hypersonic aerodynamics (Mach 3 or 4, and on up).

The help available on this page deals with the first speed range (incompressible flow), and the external flow geometry.  This is what is of interest to most private pilots, especially those building and flying their own experimental aircraft.  Besides the basic notions, a little practical training is included: such as a very simple method of finding out “how long can I stay up?” from ordinary cockpit instruments.

GW offers an on-site crash course in aerodynamics for pilots not technically trained in the subject.   This would be offered only once sufficient students were lined up to take it.  The course covers the definitions and physics of the forces acting on an aircraft, and selected items on how to compute performance items from in-flight data observations.  This would primarily be of use for pilots of home-built or experimental aircraft.  This offering is restricted to a practical traveling distance: essentially a 50 mile radius around McGregor, Texas (just west of Waco).  For a flyer about such a course offering, click here.   To contact GW about signing up for a course, click here.

The basic course materials are available in handout form for self-study.  To download a copy of those materials, go to the aerodynamics course offering page and click on the links to the course materials files.   Click here for the Aerodynamics Course Page.