By Peter W. Merlin
Since birds are naturally efficient flyers, it is not surprising that they have served as an inspiration to both casual observers and serious scholars of flight. In fact, lessons learned from the study of birds in centuries past may have a significant impact on future aircraft development.
NASA, Air Force, and industry researchers are using wing-shaping techniques that emulate the flexibility of bird wings to develop flight controls for 21st-century airplanes. The first step toward these goals—a joint effort by NASA, the Air Force, and Boeing—resulted in a highly modified F-18 that served as a test bed for active aeroelastic wing (AAW) technologies. This newest volume in NASA's Aeronautics Book Series describes the origins and design development of AAW technology, its application to a research aircraft, the flight-test program, and follow-on research and future applications. It also includes an in-depth description of program management and direction, research results, and lessons learned.
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