High wing vs low wing efficiency

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Briar Rabbit, Dec 31, 2020.

  1. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    It makes sense for a bird to have the wings up high, away from the prey they're seizing with their talons down low. I don't see any connection between that and airplanes, though (except maybe a helicopter -- rescues or slung loads would be pretty awkward with the main rotor on the bottom of the helicopter :) ).
     
  2. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Back to hangar efficiency, my high wing doesn’t quite clear our tractor with ROP, but does nicely clear motorcycles.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Also never had a gashed forehead from a low wing.
     
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  4. Briar Rabbit

    Briar Rabbit Line Up and Wait

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    I have had a moustache to cover up a scar from the trailing edge of an aileron since 1970. Stitches at the base of your nose really tingle!
     
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  5. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'm ashamed to say that I have bashed my forehead on the pitot-static blade under my PA-28's wing. It takes a special kind of clumsiness to pull that off.
     
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  6. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Not to mention getting out while the engine was running!
     
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  7. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    You mean like this...


    FWIW: while I don't have a dog in this hunt flying-wise, the one place high-wing beats low-wing every time is from the mx side. Give me a hangar full of high-wings over low-wings to work on every time.
     
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  8. wayne

    wayne Pattern Altitude

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    Thats called an ornithopter. They had them in the Dune books by Frank Herbert.

    I've seen some videos of lightweight RC / toy planes that are ornithopters.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  9. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Yup. One can spend much of his day putting on extra miles walking all the way around the low-wing airplane. Billable hours go up!
     
  10. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    That's not why bird's wings are high. It's because muscles can only pull, and since a bird's wings generate lift on the downstroke, the geometry of a high wing permits massive muscle mass in the breast where it does the most good for its weight.
     
  11. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    Meet the Fokkers
    Aye..
    me wings may be high,
    me wings may be low,
    long as they take me ass,
    where it fancies to go.
     
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  12. JohnAJohnson

    JohnAJohnson Cleared for Takeoff

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    'Cept for the high wing BUFF, which held the record for many years :)
     
  13. nauga

    nauga Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Being dragged around the world by low-winged tankers is not exactly "efficient." ;)

    Not to take anything away from what they intended, it was a significant accomplishment all the same.

    Nauga,
    plugged
     
  14. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    The the final result seems to be that — except for in ground effect — high wing vs low wing makes no aerodynamic-efficiency difference worth mentioning.
     
  15. nrm2430

    nrm2430 Pre-Flight

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    I’ll add that when it comes to retracts, the look and appeal of flying a low wing is way above that of a high wing for me personally. But it is nice to be able to see the gear and know it’s there in case something goes wrong, no matter how goofy the retraction process looks when you’re in something like a C182RG. That is if you even remembered to lower it in the 1st place...
     
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  16. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I think not seeing the gear in a low-wing is how they pressure you to buy a low-wing twin so that you get the fancy engine cowl mirrors!
     
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  17. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    really?
     
  18. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  19. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I’m pretty sure he’s right about muscles only pulling, via contraction. It’s only through levers and fulcrums that the end net effect can appear to be pushing.
     
  20. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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  21. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Google “can muscles push”. Universal agreement that they only work through contraction.

    Muscles move body parts by contracting and then relaxing. Muscles can pull bones, but they can't push them back to the original position. So they work in pairs of flexors and extensors. The flexor contracts to bend a limb at a joint.”
     
  22. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    I remember that from weight training years ago -- you usually try to work on pairs of opposing muscles evenly (e.g. back vs chest, biceps vs triceps, quads vs hamstrings, etc).
     
  23. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Just don't skip leg day.
     
  24. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    ..hardly a high benchmark



    (sorry I couldn't resist)

    There is empirical data out there.. we've built plenty of high and low wings, someone could load this into a spreadsheet and come up with a general trend.

    For what it's worth, we haven't discussed mid wings.. there aren't many, but the ones that exist are either very fast, very efficient, or both. I'm looking at you Piaggio Avanti and the Aerostar

    PS, while on the topic of birds.. they're more similar to flying wings than traditional tube and wing designs. And as mentioned up thread the "high wing" location has more to do with muscle design than operational efficiency

    Anyway... here are two modern turboprops

    Saab 2000 low wing https://www.saabaircraftleasing.com/prod/datasheets/2000_JAR.pdf
    --365 knot cruise
    --51,000 lbs
    --60 pax
    --30,000 ft ceiling
    --3,100 lb block fuel for 500 nm trip

    Dash 8 Q300 high wing https://www2.bombardier.com/Used_Aircraft/pdf/Q300_EN.pdf
    --280 knot cruise
    --43,000 lbs
    --25,000 foot ceiling
    --50 pax
    --4,000 lb block fuel for 500 nm trip

    **The figures above are rough estimates based on internet sleuthing and the resources above.. and it's not the full picture. But if you go and compare overall speed and fuel burn for various designs the low wings win.

    Heck, Mooney holds the standard for "fast and efficient" and they went with a low wing design. Just about every fast GA plane is a low wing
     
  25. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think a lot of high-wings are optimised for applications where ground clearance, visibility, and access are more important than speed, e.g. off-airport landings, float and ski ops, skydiving, SAR, pipeline inspection, etc. etc. There are some speedy high-wings, like the Cessna 210, but they usually don't have wing struts (except for the earliest 210s). I think if you see a high wing with wing struts, speed probably wasn't the top design goal — but then again, when's the last time you saw a Mooney on floats?
     
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  26. mcdewey

    mcdewey Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Okay, here's the solution: an aircraft that has wings that move up for high wing flight or down for low wing controlled by a lever in the cockpit. This way a pilot can select the best configuration for the stage of flight. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Nothing but win here!!!
     
  27. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    So you made me Google this, there was a thread on MooneySpace back in 2010 of someone actually looking to put a Mooney on floats.. I guess there are some PA28 on floats? But I couldn't find a single float Mooney

    Form follows function, for sure. But it seems that most designers who, from the outset, say "I want speed" either go low wing (Mooney, TBM, etc.) or mid wing (Aerostar, Piaggio Avanti), but few (if any?) go high wing
     
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  28. nauga

    nauga Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    The Navy has had that capability for years ;)

    Blues_farvel.png

    Nauga,
    downside up
     
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  29. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    I did mention the Cessna 210, which is a decently-fast plane (the 210P even more so, though it also has a bit of a reputation as a hangar queen). But I think the engineering challenges of a strutless high-wing plane convince most of the designers looking for max speed to take the cheaper and easier low-wing route.
     
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  30. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    Have you seen the photos of a DC-3 on floats?
    [​IMG]
     
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  31. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    See.. now I need one. Add this to the list of toys for the dream hanger when I have Bezos money
     
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  32. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'm too late in my career now to pretend I'll ever be rich, but in my fantasy world of me as a billionaire, a DC-3 would be one of the first planes in my hangar too.
     
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  33. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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  34. Briar Rabbit

    Briar Rabbit Line Up and Wait

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    There is a Beech 18 on floats performing on the Southeast end of Lake of the Woods, the Canada side of the border. Nice looking bird!
     
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  35. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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  36. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    ..and it will arguably bring more emotional value
     
  37. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Would you settle for an Aztec:
    [​IMG]
     
  38. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Aztec on floats . . . for when you were impressed by how much ice it could carry in the winter and want to have that same performance all year round, lol.
     
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  39. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Well between having two engines AND floats it would certainly help my fear of overwater flying!
     
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