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Volume 10, Issue 4


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Airfoil Aerodynamics Using Panel Methods
Richard L. Fearn

Potential flow over an airfoil plays an important historical role in the theory of flight. The governing equation for potential flow is Laplace's equation, a widely studied linear partial differential equation. One of Green's identities can be used to write a solution to Laplace's equation as a boundary integral. Numerical models based on this approach are known as panel methods in the aerodynamics community. This article introduces the availability of a collection of computational tools for constructing numerical models for potential flow over an airfoil based on panel methods. Use of the software is illustrated by implementing a specific model using vortex panels of linearly varying strength to compute the flow over a member of the NACA four-digit family of airfoils.



About the Author
While teaching for thirty years at the University of Florida, I often wished for effective computational tools to help students learn aerodynamics. Since retirement, I have started developing software for that purpose. When not playing with Mathematica, I can usually be found summers hiking in the Canadian Rockies or, spring and fall, walking or canoeing in the northern part of Florida with family and friends.

Richard L. Fearn
Professor Emeritus
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-6250

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