Parker AE cadet lectures

Cadet Lectures on Aerospace



An elementary means for estimating the maximum height of a model rocket's flight is presented based on similar triangles and on the tangent of the observed elevation angle. An explanation is given for determining initial velocity for published impulse and measurement of the model's mass. The ideal height of flight is developed from conservation of energy by equating kinetic energy at lift off with the potential energy at apogee. Rockets don't get this high because of drag, therefore equations for drag effects are given with a simple numerical analysis scheme for treating drag as a modified g.

Orbital mechanics


Newton's greatest contribution to mankind is presented showing how he mathematically described the shape of Mar's orbit as an ellipse. By using his concept of the central force of gravity combined with the new language of calculus, he proved that knowledge gained by observation on earth applied to heavenly objects. Simple mathematics are used based on numerical analysis, all in Excel, that can be understood at the high school level.



Physics of Aircraft Instrumentation


The physics behind airspeed and altitude instruments is explained by application of Bernoulli's principles to the pitot tube attached to an aircraft pointing into the undisturbed airstream. Additionally, gyroscopes are discussed as the means for determining heading and the artificial horizon. In particular, the practice of weighting the gimbal axis to control gyroscopic precession so as to align the spin of the gyroscope along a meridian, as opposed to a fixed direction in space, is presented.

Wing design


Definitions are given to describe wing shapes, such as chord, chamber and thickness. Based on these parameters, the NACA libraries of wing profiles are explored. These profiles include sets of points encircling the wing which can be input to wing design programs available for free on the Internet. Two such programs are discussed: Xfoil from MIT, and JavaFoil from a German expert. This presentation leads the class through the determination of lift/drag for various airspeeds, angles of attack and flap angles.

2015 Wing Conference Slides

Click on this link to see a set of conference presentation slides covering rocketry and physics of aircraft instruments.