Transcript for NASA Connect - Shapes of Flight

[Van:] Have you ever look at
the birds and wish you can fly.

On the other hand,
as you ever wondered,

how a hugh airplane is
able to stay up in the air.

Today on NASA Connect, we are
going to show you, how the shape

of a plane affects its flight.


[Van:] Hi, I am Van Hughes.

[Shelley:] Hi, and I am Shelley
Kenley, welcome to NASA Connect.

The show that connects you to the
world of math, science and NASA.

[Van:] Right now,
we are coming to you

from this Smithsonian National
Air and Space Museum located

in Washington D.C. and Shelley,
this is the perfect location

to talk about the shape of plane.

[Shelley:] Hey, that's right
Van, if there is a one place

where you can experience the
entire story of flight, this is it.

The National Air and Space
Museum is under three hundred

and fifty six aircraft were
collectively they reflect the

science of flight.

[Van:] The museum is home to
the first airplane developed

by the Wright Brothers.

Notice how the propellers
are in the back

and the stabilizing
wings are in the front.

There is the Fokker
T2 to the first plane

to cross America coast-to-coast
and Charles Lindbergh's Spirit

of St. Louis; the first airplane

to fly non-stop across
the Atlantic.

[Shelley:] Then there
are other plane,

which pushed aircraft
design even further.

The Bell F1 is a cross
between a plane and a rocket.

It was the first airplane
to break the sound barrier.

The Grumman X-29 has
backward looking wings.

It goes so fast that the wings
would deliberately design

to be unstable in order to enhance
the aircraft's maneuverability.

The museum also has as the Voyager.

There is how long the wings
are, this wing-span ratio

[inaudible] to fly non-stop,
non-refueled around the world.

[Van:] Well, Shelley, they are all
allotted different shapes here.

Imagine what the Wright
Brothers would have designed

if they would have accessed to
today's math and scientific tools.

[Shelley:] Hey you're right Van.

You know it's important
to know that science

and technology are closely
related, are need to know

and understand, why
scientific research are needs

to the development of
technological products.

[Van:] Well Shelley, that's
what our show shapes a flight,

is all about today.

You see this interaction between
math and science technology,

as we look at the process
of air plane design.

[Shelley:] Hey you
know, what we are going

to talk this NASA research to
show us the process of a tool

to research, develop, tests
and evaluate airplane design.

They will share some challenging
problems they are working on

and their solutions, which
might result in configuration

for future aircraft and later on
you will be able to interact live

with our researchers by calling
them or emailing your questions

to the researchers in
the NASA Connect studio.

[Van:] We will also
be joined by students

from Jones Magnet Middle
School in Hampton Virginia;

who will conduct the
flight experiment

and share their data with us.

And there is much more of
this program on the internet.

Whenever you see the NASA Connect
website appear on the screen,

that will be your clue to checkout
the site for more information,

fun and activities
relating to our discussion.

[Shelley:] Alright and so
Van my question to you,

have you ever wanted
to fly like a bird?

[Van:] Of course

[Shelley:] You have well, there is
one place I know of that's of close

to flying like a bird
as you can get.

It's in North Carolina, not far

from where the Wright Brothers
flew the first airplane.

How does would like
to go there and learn

about the four forces of flight?

[Van:] I am sure.

[Shelley:] Alright, first
start, you name the four forces.

[Van:] Okay we have drag,
lift, weight and thrust.

[Shelley:] Hey that's
right, drag is a force

which slows the forward
movement of airplane

as it pushes through the air.

Lift is creating when
the air pressure bubble,

wing is less in a
pressure below it.

Thrust is created
by a power source,

which gives an airplane forward
motion and the weight is the force

of gravity pulling
an airplane down.

Well, you can learn about this
full force in a real hands

on way like the hand
gliders interested?

[Van:] Well how long will
take us to get there.

[Shirley:] Well about fast
as I can snap my fingers.

[Van:] I am already.

[Shirley:] Ready to go, alright
then gang I am going to send Van

on assignment to Jockeys Ridge,

State Park in Kitty
Hawk North Carolina,

to experience filght, first hand.

In the meantime I going to

[inaudible] to Deer County to
talk with experimental aviators

who are pushing the outlook

of flight just like the
early aviation pioneers.

Let's go.

[Van:] I am here Regallo
Kite Festival

at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Peoples from all over the world
come here to fly their kites

on the same sand dunes that
the Wright Brothers used

to fly the very first airplane.

Now did you know that the Chinese
with the first people to fly kites?

Almost 3000 years ago the Chinese
build kites out of silk and bamboo.

Three years, the kite has been
thought os as a trivial toy.

But history tells us that the
kite is so much more than a toy.

Throughout history kites have
been used by civil engineers

to construct bridges and perhaps
most famously, by Ben Franklin

in the study of electricity.

Why even NASA has study kites.

Matter of fact, this kite festivals
named for a famous NASA researcher

and his work with
the flexible wing.

Mr. Francis Ragalo
known as the father

of hand gliding created
the paraglider that was one

of the possible design solutions

for returning a space
capsule back to earth.

Mr. Ragalo is here today
for this kite festival.

He is giving me some background
on how flexible wind works.

Want to know more visit
the NASA Connect website.

[Francis:] And you know
Van, would you like to fly,

we can go out there
and go hang-gliding.

[Van:] Oh wow, that be great.

Right now?

[Francis:] Right now let's go.

[Van:] All right.

Let's go.

[Shirley:] We will be back in just
a few moments to catch up with Van

but right now, we are here windy

[inaudible] North
Carolina, actually we are

at the Deer County airport, where
Air Venture Ninety-Eight is just

about ready to get underway.

Air Venture Ninety-Eight,
now that's an airways

for experimental aircraft.

But not too far from here is Kitty
Hawk which is the site of the first

of sort powered air flight in 1903.

The Wright Brothers
change the world forever.

When Orville went up into the
air for the first successful,

heavier than air flight.

This machine was just one step
in a broad experimental program;

that became with a glider
kite; that they built in 1899.

Now did they build the
first successful plane,

but they build the first wind
tunnel and they have to find

out for themselves the
dynamics of lift, drag, weight,

and thrust on a shape.

Ever since the Wright brothers
successfully tested their flying

machine off the sand-dunes at Kitty
Hawk, we have seen a multitude

of designers, builders, adventures
trying to take their machines

to some place faster,
further and higher.

So that's what Air Venture
Ninety-Eight, is all about,

it honors those people.

They will set off right here
from historic North Carolina

and set sail across
the skies to Oshkosh,

Wisconsin where they are set

to kick off the largest
experimental aircraft air show

in North America -- Oshkosh.

Aviation enthusiasts
annually gather at Oshkosh

to witness first hand new
design concept in technologies;

that could open up new
visitors to the field

of aeronautical engineering
and to personal

and commercial aircraft
venues.Air Venture brings

out many different personnel

and many different
extraordinary looking aircraft.

Joining me right now is a very
special personality, 'Hoot' Gibson,

who is a former astronauts
was a command on four missions

and has flown over sixty
different airplanes

and behind you can
see the airplane,

he is going to be race in, How
about given us a little low

down on this big plane.

[Gibson:] Well Shirley, this air
plane is a Hawker Seafury built

by the British, right
after World War II;

so right in the late
forties and early fifties

as when these air
planes started flying.

It's a really interesting bird;

it's a very big heavy
powerful machine.

It weighs about nine
thousand pounds.

It has a three thousand horse power
engine in it and as you can see,

it's got about a fourteen
foot dynameters procured

as you can see the wings fold.

[Shirley:] Yeah.

[Gibson:] At least to be carrier
fighter was what the British use

to for and you always want to
minimize the size of the airplane,

when its time to stole the way on
the carrier, so you full the wings

in it and takes up a lot of space.

The wings actually cost to you a
little bit weigh because you got

to put in some mechanism to make
the wings forward and to up wings

because of course you want to
lock them when they are down,

you don't want them folding
up by themselves obviously.

[Shelly:] Yeah, well I have
a final question for you.

This is what I call a
tortoise and hare question.

Your planes certainly is bigger

than any other air plane that's
going to be in this air race,

so given that which plane
do you think is going

to be your closest
competitor in this race?

[Gibson:] I'm not even sure Shirley
that we are going to win this race.

We do have the biggest most
powerful heaviest airplane

out here.

But it doesn't have any kind of
guarantee that we are going to win.

The other air plane that
I think is really fast

and may be little
problem for us is the 9.08

[inaudible] with the
Chevrolet V-8 engine in it

with the five bladed propeller.

I think, he is going
to be very fast

and he is going to
fly a lot higher.

He can be up in the twenty-five
to thirty thousand feet range.

We are going to be quite a
bit worry, we are going to be

down around twenty thousand
feet, somewhere around there,

so he is going to be
some real competition,

I think on this length of a race.

[Shelly:] So there is a lot of
variables here that are going

to air into this race?

[Gibson:] There really are.

[Shelly:] So stay tune and
will see who comes out ahead.


[Shelly:] Well gang
as you can see design

and building air plane takes
an awful lot of work and among

that it takes some
prompt solving strategies.

Now that means, you
can't be able to identify

and understand just look
the question of promise

that you can began
to investigate it.

Right now you're going to meet some
of today's researchers who involved

in the shapes of life, as you
meet this research team consider,

the role of mathematics
and mathematical tools

in scientific inquiry, the
value of collaborations

and team work can
conducting research

and the engineering process and
its applications in every day life.

The leader of the design
team is Mike Logan.

[Mike Logan:] Air plane design is
a team effort like any good team

every job is important.

As project engineer, it's my
job to shape at the air craft

through its stages
in the life cycle.

To define the problems let's
look at the current challenge.

Twenty years from now, NASA want
an air plane, that will carry twice

as many passengers as today's
air liners and transport them

to their destination
and it has the cost.

That's a big challenge,
especially when you consider

that the air plane of the future;
will have to be quieter, safer,

most fuel efficient and
more environmental friendly.

The next step in the process
then is to propose solutions.

This is Paul Gohaus he is one
of our designers on our team,

Paul why don't you talk about one
of the solutions you working on.

[Paul:] Well, the solutions

that appears is the blended
wing-body body concept.

So radical change from the
seven-forty-seven type air plane,

which is a tube with wings.

We gotten rid of the bumps and
some of the bulges that there are

on the traditional air plane that
has a glide ratio of about eighteen

and put them into a much
more clean air dynamic shape

that will have a glide ratio
of twenty three we hope.

[Mike Logan:] Thanks Paul,

step three in the engineering
problem solving method is

to analyze and evaluate solutions
to do that the airplane will,

we think about the four basic
forces on a airplane, lift,

drag, thrust and weight.

Those four forces have to be in
balance for the air plane to work.

To do that, we are trying
to experts in the field.

This is Caron Deer, she is
one of our nozzle researchers.

They help us look at thrust.

Caron why don't you talk about what
are the nozzle researcher does?

[Caron:] I design and research
nozzle concepts to determine

which is the best candidate for
generating thrust for an air plane.

Sir Isaac Newton's third
principle which states

for every action there is an
equal and opposite reaction,

helps us understand thrust.

We use a balloon to
demonstrate thrust.

We allow the air inside the balloon
to escape through the opening.

We see the motion of the balloon
in the opposite direction.

And nozzle can be
compared to the opening

of the balloon changing the size,

changes the amount
of thrust generated.

nozzles have different shapes
just like airplanes have

different shapes.

There is always trade-offs
in the design process.

[Mike Logan:] They
certainly are Caron.

In fact one of the trade offs that
we look at is the cost required

to achieve the capability
that we want to have.

Sharon Jones is one of the people
that help evaluate these concepts

from a cost standpoint.

Sharon, why don't you talk
a little bit about that?

[Sharon:] Well, Mike what we do is,
we create a model of the aircraft

on a computer, so
that when we can go in

and change different
aspects of the aircraft.

We can look at what type of
materials are we going to use,

how big is the aircraft
going to be?

How many passengers will it carry
and also how much it is going

to cost for the airlines
to operate the aircraft?

[Mike Logan:] Thanks Sharon,
for last step in the process is

to select and refine the solution,

we will take a look
at that in a moment.

The first let's check
in with Shelly and Van

or he is getting his own
lesson on the balance

of the four forces of flight.

[Van] I am getting suited-up

in my hand glider outfit thing
here and yeah, all ready.

We will get hooked up here
getting ready to my first flight.

And I guess will catch you
all later, back to you Shelly.

[Shelly] Well, it looks like Van
is giving some final instruction

before he is going to find
himself airborne and me I am going

to change my cloths and I meet
you back of the Connect studio.

And you guys I am sending you first
on our final check and I am going

to send you to check out
the most powerful tool used

by aeronautical engineers when
they are doing a investigations

that tool the wind
tunnel such as those found

at NASA Langley Research
Center in Hampton Virginia.

[Mike Logan:] Thanks
Shirley and welcome back.

It is this point in
our design process

where we begin to
refine our design.

We do that by using scales
models of the configuration

and testing them in
the wind tunnel.

With me now is Zack
Applan who is head

of our subsonic aerodynamics
research here at Langley.

Zack why don't you
take it from here?

[Zack:] Alright, many models could
be made of an airplane concept.

That can be part of the
airplanes, such as wing or tail

or the entire air plane itself.

These models can range in
size from just few inches

to as largest twelve feet

as the seven thirty
seven model behind this.

We build these models up
in this wind tunnel on top

of this large eighty
thousand pounds batteries.

We are ready for test, powerful
jets actually float the entire

structure about an inch off the
floor we then move the entire

assembly into the wind
tunnel for testing.

A wind tunnel is basically
a giant tapered tube

with the large fan in the circuit.

The wind tunnel stimulates
the flow of air as it glides

over the plane surface.

Doing this in the wind tunnel
gives us very controlled conditions

to test that concept
from the design people.

Talking about the blended
wing body, we found the design

to be very successful so far.

It holds a lot of
promise for the future.

[Mike Logan:] Thank Zack.

Some of the concepts
that you have seen today

and maybe very well
be the airplanes,

you are flying in tomorrow.

Math, science, engineering,
team work

and problem solving are all
important tools that have

to be available for these
airplanes to come in the being

for you in the future.

Now, back to you Shelly.

[Shelly:] Wow, let me tell you

that was a great trip
visiting 'Hoot' Gibson

at the Deer County
airport in North Carolina,

but you know the variables
of being outside in the wind

in the ring really get to you
and I am glad to be back here

in the Connect studio.

Well, as Mike has said,
it is today's students

that will become NASA's
future researchers,

so let's go visit Jones

[inaudible] Middle
School in Hampton,

Virginia where students are
investigating an aeronautical

challenge involving surface
area and glide ratio.

Follow along, and when we come back
we will look at the data collected

by these students and then you
my friends will be challenged

to make your own analysis

and predications based
upon their results.

[Student 1:] Hi!

We arew students from Jones

[inaudible] Middle School and



[Student 1:] We were asked to
investigate the glide ratio

for different model
airplane designs to determine

which design provides
the best glide ratio.

The glide ratio of a plane
describes the forward distance

known for drop and altitude in
the absence of power in wind.

For example, a three to one ration
means that if you are one mile

up you better be within
three miles of the airport.

Miss. Dominick and Miss.

Barnwell our science and math
teachers divided our class

into four teams.

The blue team, the red team, the
yellow team and the white team,

each team will fly
a different region.

[Student 2:] To do our experiment,
we use the following materials.

Copy of paper, we use different
colors to identity each team.

We also used glue and meter
stick and the tape measure.

Each team was asked
to select one design

from the four patterns
provided to us by NASA Langley.

There is shapes included
the e-grade, the flats,

the basic square and the


Each team constructs a different
model and calculates the total area

of the paper, used in
creating the model.

Next we figure how much of the
total area is actually devoted

to the airplane's wings.

Now we are ready to
run our flight test.

[Student 1:] For our base line test
we decide to launch the airplane

at two and two ten kilo
meters from the ground.

This becomes the plane's
right altitude.

Our four groups conduct ten test
slice from this filght altitude.

We are careful to launch each
flight test from the same altitude

and to be as consistent as
possible in the first use

to launch the airplane.

We then measure the distance
that plane goes from launch point

to where it first
touches the ground.

We check out data or the air from
shortest to longest distances

and then calculate the
median and mean for the data.

We are now ready to
compute glide ratios

for the shortest distance
to longest distance.

The median and then mean, using the
formula horizontal distance divided

by the change in altitude will
raise to answer the question.

Which of the glide ratios that you
have completed as the best one use

and describe your
planes glide ratio?

[Shelly:] Well, talking
about variables.

It look like two of our NASA
researchers have now joined us

in this studio and they
brought some aircraft models

to share with us.

And talking about research,
it's time to make you a part

of our audience research team.

Over the next several
minutes you will be presented

with several questions related to
the data collective from our Jones

[inaudible] Middle School students.

Then after this segment our
NASA researchers Mike Logan

and Zack Applan will be taking
your phone calls and e-mails

through the numbers indicate
at the bottom of the screen.

Okay, now.

Look carefully at the data and
working with your fellow students,

answer the questions as as
read aloud by Zack Applan

who is the Assistant Head of the
Subsonic Aero Dynamics Branch,

here at NASA Langley
Research Center.

[Mike Logan:] Calculate the
glide ratios for the shortest

and longest distance flown.

[ Music ]

[Mike Logan:] Calculate
the mean and the median

for the distance flown.

[ Music ]

[Mike Logan:] Predict how far the
airplane would glide if launch

from a height twice

to experimental altitude
shown in trial five.

[ Music ]

[Shelly:] So how do
you think you did?

Well your mathematical computation
and reasoning are important skills

to answering the last questions.

Also are you ready with
your own questions?

Here we are now with me to fill
up my questions are Mike and Zack.

And shown on your set
are the numbers to use.

Now please note that the
telephone numbers are good only

for today's November
tenth broadcast.

All right, let me begin
I have got a number

of e-mail questions
that have commenced.

I am going to start with
the e-mail questions.

My first question if you
take a look at it is?

What is glide ratio?

Mike or Zack could
like to answer that.

[Mike Logan:] Okay then.

The glide ratio is as you
saw earlier is the ratio

of the horizontal distance
flown to the out altitude drop.

And from a design standpoint
we look at the glide ratio

as the result of the
(inaudible) efficiency,

which is basically the lift
versus the drag ratio or L over D.

So when we design an airplane
glide ratio is important.

That's the measure of the
air dynamic efficiency

and how good the airplane is?

[Shelly:] We had a question
that was related as for,

look at our second e-mail question.

Someone wants to know does
weather affect glide ratio?

[Mike Logan:] It certainly can.

In fact when earlier you
saw that we end in a range,

those are two factors that are
very heavily impact the glide ratio

the more when did you having
the higher the rainfall

and more likely you are to
have not has did a glide ratio.

[Shelly:] Okay so wind speed
could be a factor here then.

All right.

Well I know that we
have a caller out there.

So caller, how about giving us
your name please and your question.

Go ahead caller can you give
us your name and your question.

[Caller:] Michael Williams.

Right now how far could the first
air plane that you are showing, go?

[Shelly:] Good -- turn down your
set and ask the question again.

I think we would hear
little bit more clearly.

Could you repeat that again please?

[Caller:] That's the
phone doing that.

[Shelly:] Could you ask
the question one more time

again please?

[Caller:] How far did
the most model go?

[Shelly:] How far did the model go?

Are you referring to
the student's model?

[Caller:] Yeah!

[Shelly:] You saw there on the data
that they collected that it went --

they tried it ten times, so
we saw the data for five times

and we saw the distance
for five for those flights.

So your challenge is to go
back and look at that data

and you could calculate
the mean and the median

for those five flights.

And then you will have that answer.

Good question.

All right, well let me
go back to my e-mail

because I know I got several
questions that are coming here.

Here is a question.

How do researchers in designing
an airplane decide what is wind

span should be?

[Mike Logan:] That's a
good question Shelly.

It well depends on aircraft mission
typically transport aircraft

after the long wind spans where
they need half fuel efficiency

for fighter type aircrafts you
typically have shorter spans you

require a lot more structural
strength out of the airplane

so the typical have shorts span
on fighter type configutartions.

[Shelly:] Okay, All right, we
got another email question kind

of related to this all right.

And may be you've
answered this already.

How important is the
width of a wings span

in an airplanes performance?

[Mike Logan:] Very simple sense,

I guess the longer span typically
the most fluid efficiently

in aircraft, airplane
configuration would be.

[Shelly:] Okay.

[Mike Logan:] That's
why you see long span

on commercial transport airports.

[Shelly:] All right.

I know that another
caller are there.

So let's go ahead and
go back to the phones

and caller could you give us your
name please and your question.

[Caller:] Yes, my name is Eric
Morgan, I have a question for you.

My question is little
perforated holes and little holes

on a golf ball that help
break down wind turbulence

with a golf ball, will that help
on a planes wing to reduce drag..

[Shelly:] Oh, good question,
who want to take that one.

Mike, Zack.

[Mike Logan:] As you
know the little dimples

on golf ball helps change
the drag of the golf ball

by creating turbines, now in
fact there is a similar system

that can be applied to transport
configurations called hybrid

laminar flow of control or
in fact there is little holes

that can either suck
air in and blow air out.

That's helps to create a smooth
layer of air near the surface

of the skin that actually can
reduce the drag of the airplane

as much as fifteen
to sixteen percent.

[Shelly:] All right good question.

Do you add some something else.

[Zack Applan:] Yes, an actually
very similar application that's

developed here in NASA Langley
there is a turbulent drag reduction

in form of what we called regulates

which is fairly rough
surfaces of the long airplane

which actually reduce that
overall drag of the wing.

[Shelly:] All right well, that's
about all the time when we have

so I would like to thanks all
the guest that contributes

to this program including Mike
and Zack, Paul, Karen and Sharon,.

I would also like to thanks Jones

[inaudible] Middle School,
Deer County airport,

Air Venture Ninety-Eight and
'Hoot' Gibson who did win his race,

and finally this this Smithsonian
National Air and Space Museum.

Just a final reminder to check
out the shapes of flight website

where you will see
here and learned more

about today's topic also
we invite you to camp

up with like minded students

in our special virtual
aeronautic scheme.

Here is the teammates
required just some creativity

and mathematics and
science know-how.

Video tape copies
of this show along

with the lesson plan may be
attend from NASA central operation

of resources for educators or core.

And now back to the end for
his final assent into the air.

I am Shirley Kenley
for NASA Connect.

Thanks for joining us.

[Van:] We would like to give a
special thanks to Kitty Hawk kites

for letting us to choose the hand
glider and Dr. Regalo for appearing

on our show, so connect
to the next time

where we connect you
math, science and NASA.

I am Van Hughes see you later.