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Bird, John1,Gimenez, Alfredo2, Herbert, Allen3, Lake, Troy Jr.4

**Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas 67260-0044
**

The WSU 3 by 4 foot wind tunnel was used to study the aerodynamic characteristics of body positions associated with superheroes. Tests were conducted across a range of angles of attack and in two body configurations: arms held forward, and arms held back. Additionally, tests will be conducted for the arms forward configuration both with and without a cape. Lift, drag, and pitching moment data were gathered for all configurations. This data was used to determine speed and power required for human flight, and the sustainability of flying body positions. Testing revealed that level flight was possible for reasonable speeds and angles of attack and without injury for humans. Nomenclature2

CL CD CM t s n SSxx S L q ρ = = = = = = = = = = = = Lift Confident Drag Coefficient Pitching Moment Coefficient Model Value t Statistic Standard Deviation Number of Data Points Sum of Squares of x Values Reference Area Lift Force Dynamic Pressure Density of Air

I. Introduction

T

he portrayal of humans flying is a staple of comics and movies. Superheroes are depicted soaring in to save the day flying as easily as birds. While it makes for good fiction, there is little information on the viability of such a mode of flight for humans. There exists a body of work on the aerodynamics of human bodies for skydiving configurations, but these typically focus on much higher angles of attack and their primary concern is the terminal velocity of the configuration. The authors have been unable to find any information on the viability of the human body as an aerodynamic vehicle for level flight. The objective then, of this work is to determine the viability of human flight by determination of the velocity and then power required to maintain level flight at a range of angles of attack, and to then determine the power required for that condition. Additionally a brief examination of the biomechanics of human flight was conducted to determine its feasibility.

1 2

Student, Aerospace Engineering. Student, Aerospace Engineering. 3 Student, Aerospace Engineering. 4 Student, Aerospace Engineering.

1 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

**II. Objectives and Technique
**

The goal of this test was to achieve an understanding of the behavior of humans in flight. Specifically we investigated the characteristics of the human body as an aerodynamic vehicle in symmetric flight at low angles of attack. Lift, drag, and pitching moment were determined across an angle of attack range of -10 to 20 degrees in increments of two degrees. The ultimate goal of this experimental series was to determine the thrust, power, and speed required to maintain level flight. We also determined the approximate loads on the shoulder joint of the model due to aerodynamic force when the arms are held in a forward position in order to assess whether such configurations are realistically possible for humans to sustain. Secondary objectives of this experiment were to determine the effect of capes on the flight of humans and to characterize the longitudinal stability of humans in flight in a variety of configurations. Additionally tufting was used to visualize the flow-field surrounding the body and detect flow phenomena associated with the quantitative results. In order to meet these objectives two models were used to allow testing both in an “arms forward” and an “arms back” configuration for comparison of the loads on the shoulder. All models were tested at an angle of attack range from -10 to 20 degrees angle of attack and a dynamic pressure of 25 psf. The dynamic pressure was selected to maximize the forces generated by the model. The “arms forward” model was additionally tested with the cape on to assess its effect. Due to the small size of the models used in this test, there was some concern about the reliability of the data produced. To address this, several repeats were conducted for each configuration to gather enough data to establish the quality of the measurements. These repeats were conducted some time after the initial run to asses any long-term changes in the test or model condition.

III. Apparatus

The two models utilized were both 12-inch wooden artists’ mannequins, with joints fixed by glue to hold the models rigid in the test. These two models had identical body configurations except for the location of the arms. One model had the shoulder joints fixed with the arms held flat back against the body, whereas the second model had the arms fixed forward in the classic “superman” configuration. The models were held in the tunnel by means of an aluminum structure, which attached to the balance. This structure was composed of a center channel with two plates extending downward. These plates attached to the chest of the model by means of all-thread through model aircraft control horns that attached to the chest of the model. The models were also attached at the rear by another control horn, which was fixed by a second length of all-thread running up to the support fixture. In addition to the basic model a cape was also constructed which could be attached to the back of the model by means of screws. In order to prevent tearing of the cape from separating it from the model the cape was reinforced with a small piece of plastic at the point of attachment. In order to visualize the flow field surrounding the body, tufts were attached to the surface during two runs and photographed throughout the angle of attack range.

IV. Results

After testing, it was necessary to interpolate the test data to a consistent set of test points in order to include tares and compare runs. This was required as the test points taken in the wind tunnel were not exactly at the desired test angle. After interpolation, the static tares were used to remove weight effects, then the data was non-dimensionalized with the dynamic pressure and frontal area of the model, the dynamic tares were then removed in order to arrive at solely the model effects. Examination of the results shows several results. First, the drag was impacted only slightly between the arms forward and arms back cases, but was dramatically increased by the addition of the cape. In some cases addition of the cape doubled the drag coefficient. There is an interesting “bucket” in the drag at negative attack for

Variation of Average CL with Angle of Attack for all Configurations at q = 25 psf

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Figure 1: Plot of Lift Coefficient

2 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

the caped configuration where the drag substantially decreases, although it remains higher than the un-caped drag. The lift experienced the most surprising impact from the cape. The cape simultaneously steepened the lift curve and shifted it downward. This was unexpected as it was thought that the cape would serve to simply decrease the lift generated. The steepening effect was significant enough that at higher angles of attack the caped configuration actually generated more lift than most of the un-caped arms forward runs. The other surprising result in lift was that the model never stalled. Even at 20 degrees angle of attack the lift continued to increase with a relatively constant trend with angle of attack. This is likely because there exists large regions of separated flow at all angles of attack so there is no separation-induced stall. The moment data showed that positioning the arms in a forward position causes the instability, reversing the slope of the moment coefficient versus alpha plot from slightly negative with the arms back, to positive with the arms forward. The cape changed the slope somewhat, especially at negative angles of attack, but its greatest impact was incrementing the entire curve upward substantially. The moment plots are located in the appendix. Examination of the photos taken of the tufts show highly separated regions of flow at all angles of attack and in all configurations. The flow tends to separate within a short distance from contacting the model, typically by the mid-torso region of the model. More violently separated flow can be seen at higher angles of attack and with the cape on. Photography of the cape Figure 2: Showing Regions of Separated Flow revealed it to be highly unstable, at times wrapping entirely around the legs of the model. The tufts also revealed that for many angles of attack the flow around the uncaped configuration would flow around the body in a direction back into the incident flow, likely indicative of separation and reduced lift. The caped configuration on the other hand, showed flow around the body in a more expected manner, as if it were a cylinder, this could be related to the differences in lift between the caped and uncaped configurations. There was some interference between the model and the mount as can be seen in Figure 1. At angles of attack of -4, 6, and 10 perturbations can be seen in the data that are constant across all configurations. It is thought that at these angles of attack the model is interfering with the mount or vice-versa.

**V. Statistical Validation of Data
**

Once the data had been reduced and the nondimensionalization had been performed, a statistical analysis of the runs was performed using the program StatGraphics. The analysis was done using a polynomial regression, from which a model, prediction limits, and confidence limits for each coefficient in each configuration was determined. The prediction limits were determined by using Equation 1 and the confidence limits were determined by using Equation 2:

(Equation 1)

(Equation 2)

The is the estimate of the mean value at a value of x, which in this case is the model equation at the given value of angle of attack. The is the t value at the point of interest, which was determined by taking the expected Type I error divided by two. From this, a value from an iterated table is chosen that matches the number of data points minus two. The n value is the total number of data points for the sample size. The is the difference between the model’s value at the point of interest and the value of the test data at the same point. The final term, , is the sum of squares for the difference of each point and the model point for the entire model range. An R-Squared value, P-Value, and F-Ratio were also determined for each data set using the analysis of variance (ANOVA) feature in the software.

3 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

From the model equation, predicted values for the entire angle of attack test range were determined. They were then used in determining the power required for level flight and the shoulder dislocation force values. All of the certainties and the prediction limits use a 95% confidence level, because it is the most common level used in engineering (It was discovered after a discussion with engineering statisticians that most engineering data has a Type-I error of approximately 5%). A Type-I error is a false positive error, which means that a positive reading will show up when in reality the reading is negative. The models were all second order polynomial fits. A second degree polynomial was chosen because the P-Value of the first coefficient in the model was zero out to four decimals, and the P-Value of the model was less than five percent. This means that the order of the polynomial used for the model is sufficient, and should not be changed. The P-Value and the R-Squared value for each set of data is a test for how well the model fits the experimental data. The P-Value is a determined quantity that tells the likelihood that the null hypothesis will not be rejected by the test data. This does not mean that null hypothesis is correct, but rather that it cannot be ignored. So, the smaller the PValue is, the better the fit it is, and the null hypothesis can be rejected from consideration from the data. The R-Square value is the relation ratio of the model’s sum of squares with the total corrected sum of squares. The model’s sum of squares is the square of the difference between the test data value and the model’s value at the same point. The total corrected sum of squares is the sum of squares for the model added to the sum of squares residuals. Therefore, the smaller the residual, the closer the R-Square value is to one, which means the model is an accurate representation of the test data. The F-Ratio is the ratio of the mean square of the model over the mean square of the residuals of the model and the test points. This is another way to determine if the null hypothesis will hold, or if the test hypothesis is true. The higher the value, the less likely the null hypothesis is acceptable. The standard deviation from the data collection software was larger than the values that were measured, but the data itself was deemed to be repeatable due to the repeat runs being consistent with previous runs. Therefore, the Model Equation standard deviation was deemed to have been showing lots Configuration Coefficient F-Ratio P-Value R-Squared 268.65 0.0000 0.94879 0.6257 + 0.00142839*α + 0.000706272*α of scatter with the testing points, but not a crucial Arms Back, C C 373.4 0.0000 0.96262 0.21004 + 0.0267222*α + 0.000897658*α Cape Off examination point. C 90.41 0.0000 0.861788 0.8118-0.00810304*α + 0.000353168*α In Table 1, the values for the F-Ratio, P-Value, and RC 1120.41 0.0000 0.966779 0.578116 + 0.0060799*α + 0.000515297*α Arms Forward, C 38.58 0.0000 0.500498 0.169295 + 0.0174293*α + 0.000621779*α Square value are listed, as well as the model equation for Cape Off C 210.09 0.0000 0.845124 0.796721 + 0.00235562*α + 0.000176302*α the drag coefficient, lift coefficient, and pitching moment C 286.62 0.0000 0.903823 1.06515 + 0.0209433*α + 0.00031312*α Arms coefficient for all three configurations. This table shows Forward, C 428.35 0.0000 0.93353 (-0.114561) + 0.0383526*α + 0.000321672*α Cape On that the models are sufficient to describe the test points for C 78.01 0.0000 0.718923 1.26596 + 0.00594127*α + 0.000155174*α Table 1: Statistical Models all of the cases (with the exception of the lift coefficient for the arms forward, cape off configuration). In The Variation of the Lift Coefficient with Angle of Attack for Arms Forward, Cape On Configuration at a q of 25 psf this case, there were two runs that deviated from the trends of the other runs within that configuration. The two runs were Run 13 and Run 101 from the test matrix. Run 101 followed the lift lines of the previous and following runs until an angle of attack of 10 degrees, when an increase on approximately two-tenths occurred and stayed twotenths higher the rest of the run. In Run 13, the lift line followed the same trend as Run 101, but was shifted up approximately two tenths. No cause was able to be attributed to these phenomena; therefore, they were included in the statistical analysis. These model equations are only to be used for the range of the test data, which was from -10 to positive 20 degrees angle of attack. Figure 3: Statistical Evaluation of Lift Coefficient - Arms It was determined that because of the quality of Forward, Cape On the fit of the models, the data was of usable value. Therefore is was acceptable to continue with the succeeding tasks with confidence in the values determined for the power required as well as the force in the shoulder. In Graph 1, plots of the lift coefficient model with the prediction and confidence limits for the cape on configuration are shown. The values determined from this graph are for estimation purposes only, and the exact

D L 2 2 M D L 2 2 2 M D L 2

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4 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

values should be determined using the exact equations. Lift, drag and pitching moment model, prediction limits, and confidence limits for the remaining test points are provided in Appendix 1.

**VI. Flight Requirements
**

At the outset of this investigation it became apparent that determining the power required for Superman to maintain level flight is a key aspect of the analysis of his flight characteristics and by proxy the level flight characteristics of humans as a whole. Several key factors are integral to this analysis. Namely the drag and lift coefficients, the reference area, as well as the height and weight of the full scale Superman. Using the statistical model determined previously for each configuration, arms forward with and without cape and arms back without cape, the lift and drag coefficients were determined for angles of attack ranging from negative ten to positive twenty degrees in increments of one degree. In order to nondimensionalize the lift and drag values for an adult human male, the wind tunnel model needed to be scaled appropriately. Given that the model is one foot long and proportional to an actual adult male, a scaling factor could be selected. Using the assumption that Superman, the idealized test subject, is six foot five inches and 225 pounds, the scaling factor was determined to be 6.4. The next key term to be determined in order to perform the nondimensionalization was the reference area. We selected the frontal area of the head and shoulders as the reference area for this investigation. In an examination of literature pertaining to human aerodynamics, several unique reference areas were found, including height, width, and volume ratios. However no discernable consensus was found on the appropriate reference area of a human. Thus the selection of the head and shoulder frontal area was made in order to simplify the analysis. This area was determined on the wind tunnel model then increased according to the scaling factor determined previously. Further analysis regarding the degree of appropriateness for this reference area would be recommended in further investigations. However, given this method an area of .95 square feet was determined to be the approximate area of the frontal area of human head and shoulders. Once the aerodynamic coefficients were determined using the statistical model, minimum flight speed values for the typical adult male could be determined. This of course was highly dependent upon the minimum dynamic pressure required to attain as well as maintain level flight. This was done by solving the lift equation for dynamic pressure, given in the following equation:

(Equation 3)

The dynamic pressure was then converted to a Variation of Velocity Required for Level Flight with Angle of Attack velocity in order to determine the minimum flight speed. The assumption of sea level conditions was made, allowing for analysis of the optimum case for maintaining level flight. As stated earlier Superman, our idealized model, was assumed to weigh 225 pounds, thus requiring at least this much lift for level flight. These values were, for each model configuration, compared against the full range of angles of attack. It should be noted that for the Arms Forward, Cape On configuration, below positive three degrees alpha negative lift is generated, thus requiring inverted flight. The results of this portion the analysis allowed for a determination as to the most efficient flight condition for superman and as a result humans as a Figure 4: Velocity Required for Level Flight whole. Largely to dramatically increased drag, despite slight lift improvements, the Arms Forward Cape On configuration showed the greatest required minimum velocities in regions of positive lift for all but the highest angles of attack tested. At negative angles of attack a more complex comparison is required. Assuming inverted flight is maintained, the Arms Forward Cape On configuration is the ideal flight mode below negative two degrees angle of attack. However above negative two degrees, significant reductions in required velocity can be obtained in either cape free configuration. Independent examination of the cape free configurations reveals that below negative five degrees angle of attack the Arms Forward Cape Off configuration becomes more efficient than the Arms Back Cape Off configuration. However for all other flight conditions the Arms Back Cape Off configuration is more efficient. It is also the only stable flight configuration, thus making it the desired configuration when velocity is the sole selection criteria, with a minimum required

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5 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

velocity of 424.7 ft/s (289.56 miles per hour). In comparison the Arms Forward Cape On configuration, at 20 degrees alpha requires a minimum velocity of 504.79 ft/s (344.17 miles per hour) to maintain level flight and the Arms Forward Cape Off configuration requires a velocity of 509.56 ft/s (347.42 miles per hour) at twenty degrees angle of attack. With the variations in minimum velocity required determined, the remaining analysis focused primarily on determining the power required for all flight configurations and angles of attack. Of primary concern was the drag produced in level flight. Unfortunately very few details could be determined regarding the unique sources and components of the resultant drag. However an accurate model of the thrust required was attainable using thrust equal to drag. Of course the same minimum dynamic pressures required for level flight were used in determining the drag forces on the body. Upon determining the thrust required, power required could then be obtained. Again a simplified model was selected, largely due to unknown factors regarding the aerodynamic efficiency of the human body. Thus the power required was set equal to the thrust multiplied by the velocity, divided by 550 ft*lb/s. Dividing by 550 ft*lb/s allowed for compression of the results into units of horsepower, a more tangible and familiar unit.

(Equation 4)

Variation of Power Required for Level Flight with Angle of Attack

The results above indicate similar results those attained determining the minimum required velocities. The power required to maintain flight with the Arms Forward Cape On configuration is significantly larger than that of either of the alternate configurations. It should be noted that as with the required flight speeds, below negative four degrees angle of attack the Arms Forward Cape Off configuration is preferable in regards to the propulsive requirements; however considering the instability of this flight configuration, once again the Arms Back Cape Off configuration is the optimum flight mode. The overall minimum power required for the investigation was determined to be an astonishingly low value of 147.48 HP. This is far less Figure 5: Power Required for Level Flight than was anticipated at the outset of the investigation and is indeed well within the capabilities of modern propulsion systems. The difficulty however with mounting a functional propulsion system lies in the immense additional weight associated with the necessary fuel and control systems. In comparison the Arms Forward Cape Off configuration requires 246.32 HP at the same angle of attack, and the Arms Forward Cape On configuration needs nearly double the amount of power required for the arms forward configurations, 425.42 HP at this angle of attack. Thus in considering the optimum flight configuration for Superman and thus humans as a whole, the Arms Forward, Cape Off configuration is the most aerodynamically efficient as well as the most stable of the tested flight configurations.

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VII. Biomechanics

The focus of the biomechanical portion of this investigation was the Glenohumeral (shoulder) joint, as it is the joint subject to the most variation in loading in superhero modeled flight. The main objective was to determine if level flight may be maintained without dislocating the shoulder, additionally it was desired to determine the limiting velocity causing shoulder dislocation. The analysis began by making the assumption that force differences between the arms forward and back configurations acted on the shoulder joint. This resultant force is referred to as the dislocating force. The assumption was also made that the shoulder is an axisymmetric ball and socket, able to rotate with the pitching moment so that it will not cause dislocation of the joint. Lastly, the maximum dislocation force the Glenohumeral joint is able to take is one point five times the body weight. Defining the maximum dislocation velocity as the maximum velocity a human body may reach at a given angle of attack before dislocation occurs, the velocity was solved for from the dynamic pressure equation, with dynamic pressure sized to achieve maximum dislocation force, and once again the atmosphere was taken to be at standard sea level conditions. The equations required are illustrated below. ] (Equation 5)

(Equation 6)

6 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

(Equation 7)

As superman is six foot five and 225 lb, and the tested model was one foot in length, the linear scale factor was 6.5, and the maximum dislocation force 337.5 lb. The results indicate that in the caped configuration, a body may fly up to the maximum tested 20 degrees angle of attack and down to -7 degrees angle of attack without issue. At -8 degrees angle of attack, the shoulder dislocates at 412 pounds of force. In the un-caped configuration, however, the results showed again that dislocation did not occur at 20 degrees angle of attack, but at -9 degrees angle of attack, the shoulder dislocates at 383 pounds of force. In either configuration decrease in angle of attack beyond the limiting negative value, that is more negative angles of attack, would cause exponentially greater shoulder forces. Analysis of the maximum velocity in arms forward, caped configuration showed that a body in level flight in is capable of reaching in the most limiting case, 939 mph at 20 degrees angle of attack before the Glenohumeral joint dislocates.

VIII. Conclusion

It is concluded from the result of this experimental series that level flight using the human body as an aerodynamic vehicle is possible at reasonable velocity is possible if sufficiently high angles of attack are attained. Further it is concluded that for angles of attack and velocities required for flight that there are no concerns with dislocation of the shoulder joint. In fact shoulder joint dislocation does not occur until supersonic speed has been attained. It was also seen that the power required to maintain flight, while high, was not so unreasonable as to prohibit flight of the human body. Perhaps the largest obstacle seen was the longitudinal instability of the human body during flight for all but the arms back configuration. Examination of the effects of the cape reveal that while it increases one performance metric, the lift-curve slope, it adds such a substantial drag increment as to render the cape unsuitable for use in flight. At times the cape doubled the drag of the baseline configuration, requiring substantially more power to fly. In fact, of the configurations tested, the arms back had the best performance and best suitability as a body configuration for human flight.

Appendix

Figure 7: Caped configuration illustrating the effect of the Figure 6: Un-caped configuration illustrating the reversed cape in maintaining stream-wise flow around the body. flow around the body without the cape. Flow is from the Flow is from the upper right, photo taken at an angle of upper right, picture taken at 8 degrees angle of attack attack 8 degrees.

7 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

Figure 8: The cape was highly unstable due to the separated flow field behind the body; it can be seen here wrapped entirely around the legs of the model. This instability is thought to be a large part of the drag contribution from the cape.

The Variation of the Lift Coefficient with Angle of Attack for Arms Back, Cape Off Configuration at a q of 25 psf

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The Variation of the Drag Coefficient with Angle of Attack for the Arms Forward,Cape Off Configuration at a q of 25 psf

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8 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

The Variation of the Pitching Moment Coefficient with Angle of Attack for Arms Back, Cape Off Configuration at a q of 25 psf

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References

1. Barlow, Rae and Pope. Low Speed Wind Tunnel Testing. 3rd. Walden: Wiley-Interscience, 1999. 2. Clarkson, E. Statitician. 30 April, 2010. Lake, T. Interviewer 3. Hoerner, Sighard F. and Henry V. Borst. Fluid-Dynamic Lift: Practical Information on Aerodynamic and Hydrodynamic Lift. Ed. Henry V. Borst. 1st. Brick Town: Mrs. Liselotte Hoerner, 1975. 4. Mendenhall, William. Sincich, Terry. Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences. 4th Ed. Prentice Hall. 1995. Upper Saddle River, NJ 5. Nelson, Joshua. WSU 3X4 Wind Tunnel Director 12 April 2010. 6. Oehlert, G H and D T Higdon. Aerodynamic Trajectory Control for a Parachutist in Free Fall. Wichita State University. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University, 1967. 7. Papaioannou. Biomechanics of Joints. Washington DC: Catholic University of America, 2006. 8. Payne, Peter R. Low-Speed Aerodynamic Forces and Moments Acting on the Human Body. Payne, Incorporated. Washington D.C.: United States Department of Commerce, 1975. 9. Schane, William P and Dean C. Borgman. Evaluation of the Human Body as an Airfoil. U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. Fort Rucker, Alabama: United States Army, 1969. 10. Schmitt, Thomas J. Wind-Tunnel Investigation of Air Loads on Human Beings. United State Department of the Navy. Washington D.C: Unites States Navy, 1954. 11. StatGraphics. Software Package, Ver 9.0, STATPOINT TECHNOLOGIES INC. Warrenton, Virginia 12. Valliappan, T. Statistician. 1 May, 2010. Lake, T. Interviewer.

9 WSU AE-512 Experimental Methods

Our final report for the study that we did on the aerodynamics of humans in superhero body configurations! enjoy!

Our final report for the study that we did on the aerodynamics of humans in superhero body configurations! enjoy!

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