08 June 2006

The Physics of Scale in Action

In aerodynamics, size matters. There is a reason that birds and flying bugs are the size that they are today. Oxygen content in the air can tweak it, but in the same envrionment, there are natural physical "sweet spots" for flying animals. A scale model of a robin a hundred feet tall can't fly. In the same way, a movie giant probably wouldn't be able to walk.

The same principals apply to airplanes and the reverse is also true. If you take an airplane design and make a scale model much smaller than the original, it can do amazing things.

The feats of the radio controlled airplane in the link illustrate this clearly. It does things that would be absolutely impossible for comparable full sized airplane to do. For example, the fixed wing RC plane makes a nearly verticle takeoff without an extra set of thrusters or a tilt wing. It can because of its small scale.

Hat Tip to Defense Tech.

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