Possessing the ability to move freely and effortlessly through air, mankind has been fascinated by the flight of birds. Visionaries, scientists and pioneers of aviation such as Leonardo Da Vinci saw flight as the greatest challenge facing humanity. For decades, they observed bird flights and studied the anatomy of birds. They devoted great attention to the form and function of the wing and devised initial model.
The project aims to make a lightweight ornithopter (an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings) powered by rubber motor in the process exploring aeronautics and design language. For a success flight, choice of materials becomes the most critical factor. After narrowing down from a variety of materials, balsa wood and carbon fiber rods were found the most suitable from their high strength to weight ratio. The carbon wings were covered in lightweight Mylar film.
Many problems were met during the process and the most prominent was the effects of torque by the rubber motor on the fuselage (a solid piece of balsa wood), which resulted in twisting and affects the position of the wings. The solution was derived from using a balsa sheet of 0.25mm and rolled into a tube, which resists torque and has an additional advantage of reduced weight.
The ornithopter flies by using its back wings to flap, providing thrust and lift while the front wing provides additional lift. In process of integrating design language, different designs and forms were experimented and the result was one that is able to combine both the design and technical ability to fly.
Shun Ping Pek