Flight

Airplane Wings That Can Shape-Shift

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U.S. Air Force researchers are working on what they call a Variable Camber Compliant Wing, which can change its shape mid-flight. The wing would operate autonomously, changing its camber depending on flying conditions to maximize the plane's aerodynamic efficiency. By flexing into a shape with low camber, the wings would enable the plane to travel faster and save fuel. A high-camber shape, on the other hand, would increase the drag on the aircraft.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Nearly a century before the Wright Brothers' famous flight, Sir George Cayley wrote papers stating that propulsion, control, and lift were the basic requirements for flight. 00:46

  2. The word "camber" can be used to describe the curvature of an airplane wing. 01:39

  3. Air Force engineers have developed wings that can change their camber in mid-air, called Variable Camber Compliant Wings. 02:25

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