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12.6 Basic Aerodynamic Theory

12.6.2 Describe what an aerofoil is and distinguish between different aerofoil designs.

An aerofoil is a shape that is designed to produce lift when it moves through a fluid, such as air.


12.6.4 Define:

(a) leading edge;

  • is the forward-facing edge that meets the oncoming airflow.


(b) trailing edge;

  • the rear of the aerofoil where the upper and lower surfaces meet.


(c) chord;

  • is the length measured along the chord line between the leading edge and the trailing edge of an aerofoil.


(d) chord line;

  • is a theoretical straight line drawn from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the aerofoil.


(e) thickness;

  • is the distance between the upper and lower surfaces of the aerofoil.
  • measured perpendicular to the chord line.


(f) camber.

  • The amount of curvature of an aerofoil.
  • The greater the curvature, the greater the camber. 
  • Camber is a direct measure of an aerofoils coefficient of lift (CL).


  • High camber aerofoils
    • high lift, low airspeed aircraft
    • eg. Fletcher/Cresco crop duster 




  • Medium camber aerofoils
    • light training aircraft
    • eg. Cessna 152




  • Low camber aerofoils
    • high airspeed aircraft
    • eg. F-16 Fighter Jet



12.6.6 Define relative airflow and angle of attack.

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