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The Enigma of the Aerofoil – Rival Theories in Aerodynamics, 1909-1930 - Chicago Scholarship Online
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The Enigma of the Aerofoil: Rival Theories in Aerodynamics, 1909-1930

David Bloor


Why do aircraft fly? How do their wings support them? In the early years of aviation, there was an intense dispute between British and German experts over the question of why and how an aircraft wing provides lift. The British, under the leadership of the great Cambridge mathematical physicist Lord Rayleigh, produced highly elaborate investigations of the nature of discontinuous flow, while the Germans, following Ludwig Prandtl in Gottingen, relied on the tradition called “technical mechanics” to explain the flow of air around a wing. Much of the basis of modern aerodynamics emerged from this ... More

Keywords: Lord Rayleigh, discontinuous flow, Ludwig Prandtl, aerodynamics, aviation, German circulation theory, flight, aircraft, wings, technical mechanics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2011 Print ISBN-13: 9780226060941
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226060934.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David Bloor, author