During gliding, dragonfly wings can be interpreted as acting as ultra-light aerofoils which, for static reasons, have a well-defined cross-sectional corrugation. This corrugation forms profile valleys in which rotating vortices develop. The cross-sectional configuration varies greatly along the longitudinal axis of the wing. This produces different local aerodynamic characteristics. Analyses of the C(L)/C(D) characteristics, where C(L) and C(D) are the lift and drag coefficients, respectively (at Reynolds numbers Re of 7880 and 10 000), using a force balance system, have shown that all cross-sectional geometries have very low drag coefficients (C(D, min)<0.06) closely resembling those of flat plates. However, the wing profiles, depending upon their position along the span length, attain much higher lift values than flat plates. The orientation of the leading edge does not play an important role. The detectable lift forces can be compared with those of technical wing profiles for low Re numbers. Pressure measurements (at Re=9300) show that, because of rotating vortices along the chord length, not only is the effective profile form changed, but the pressure relationship on the profile is also changed. Irrespective of the side of the profile, negative pressure is produced in the profile valleys, and net negative pressure on the upper side of the profile is reached only at angles of attack greater than 0 degrees. These results demonstrate the importance of careful geometrical synchronisation as an answer to the static and aerodynamic demands placed upon the ultra-light aerofoils of a dragonfly.

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