From the beginning of the history of flight, inspiration has been drawn from nature. Evolution has spent millions of years optimizing creatures that rely on flight as their means of locomotion. Today, aerial vehicles are very different to those from the time of the Wright brothers. One kind of vehicle that stands to benefit in mimicking nature is the drone, particularly smaller drones. Commonly used today by militaries, industry and civilians, drones are increasingly affordable while also decreasing in size thanks to advancements in electronics and manufacturing methods. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how pitching and rolling motions interact with a tandem wing. The effect of a tandem wing is mostly apparent in the hind wing, as the fore wing moves through the fluid it energizes the flow and creates a wake region. The energy put into the fluid is otherwise lost unless captured by the hind wing. The damselfly was essential inspiration in the development of this experiment, current research shows that higher levels of efficiency can be achieved by mimicking the creature’s anatomy. A pitching and plunging motion by the hindwing seeks to recreate the flapping motion used by the damselfly. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) was carried out on both wings to visualize the flow and develop an idea of the flow physics at work. Early results show the combined pitching and plunging motion are an effective means of vortex generation. These vortices create a pressure gradient across the hindwing, contributing to lift generation. This is particularly of interest in the take-off phase of flight. The flapping motion has the dual purpose of producing lift and thrust, this is seen as it shifts between downstroke and upstroke of the plunging cycle

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Bhattacharya, Samik


Bachelor Science in Aerospace Engineering (B.S.A.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Aerospace Engineering



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date