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Flapping Wing Aerodynamics

Fluid Dynamics and Aerothermodynamics

Incompressible Flows and Aerodynamics

  1. Wei Shyy1,
  2. Hikaru Aono1,
  3. Hao Liu2

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470686652.eae021

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering

How to Cite

Shyy, W., Aono, H. and Liu, H. 2010. Flapping Wing Aerodynamics. Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Michigan, Department of Aerospace Engineering, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

  2. 2

    Chiba University, Graduate School of Engineering, Chiba, Japan

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Birds, bats, and insects flap their wings to produce lift as well as thrust. The aerodynamics associated with flapping wings can be enhanced by large-scale vortical flow structures by wing kinematics, wing shapes, and flexible wing structures. Consequently, with appropriate kinematics, frequency, and amplitude, flapping wings can generate substantially higher lift and perform well beyond stall angle of attack for fixed wings. In this chapter, we highlight the fluid physics associated with low Reynolds number flapping wings, including leading edge vortices, pitch-up rotation, wake capture, clap-and-fling mechanisms, and tip vortices, as well as the impact of wing flexibility on flapping wing aerodynamics.


  • flapping wing;
  • unsteady aerodynamics;
  • vortex;
  • low Reynolds number;
  • wing flexibility;
  • natural flyers;
  • micro-air vehicles