Dynamic Stall

In nature, birds and other flying animals often use unsteady flow effects to enhance the lift their wings generate. When a wing sits at a high angle of attack, it stalls; the flow separates from the upper surface, and its lift force is suddenly lost. If, on the other hand, that wing is in motion and pitching upward, lift is maintained to a much higher angle of attack. The reason for this is shown in the flow visualization above. This montage shows a rectangular plate pitching upwards. Flow is left to right. Each row represents a specific angle of attack and each column shows a different spanwise location on the plate. As the plate pitches upward, a vortex forms and grows on the leading edge of the plate. Eventually, the leading-edge vortex separates, but not until a much higher angle of attack than the plate could sustain statically. This effect allows birds to maintain lift during perching maneuvers and is also key to helicopter rotor dynamics. (Image credit: K. Granlund et al.)

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