Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2017

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Type



The aerodynamics of a modern wingsuit has been the subject of very few detailed scientific studies to date. The prevailing design process remains the dangerous “sew and fly” method, in which designs are tested when they are first flown. This study utilizes Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tools to analyze the flow field and aerodynamics of an idealized wingsuit, which is designed using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) modeling. The 3D CAD software Autodesk Inventor is used to create the wingsuit model, which is designed with a Gottingen 228 airfoil cross-section and a relatively large planform of aspect ratio 1.3. The commercial flow solver ANSYS Fluent is employed to solve the steady Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations with a turbulence model. First, the CFD simulations were performed using the k-kl-ω Transition turbulence model for flow past the Gottingen 228 airfoil in 2D at various angles of attack. This was done in order to validate the computations against the results from the airfoil software Profili 2.0, ensuring that the CFD solutions matched the lift and drag coefficients obtained from Profili. The airfoil had a maximum lift coefficient of 1.97 and a stall angle of 12°. After the validation, 3D RANS simulations were performed for flow past the wingsuit at various angles of attack using the Spalart-Allmaras turbulence model. The wingsuit was assumed to be flying with a free-stream velocity of 45 m/s, corresponding to a Reynolds number of 5.5×106. The 3D wingsuit had a maximum lift coefficient of 2.73 and reached a stall angle of 47°, which are higher than the 2D case because of the effect of induced drag on the 3D wing. The 3D results were proved to be grid independent. The wingsuit was found to be statically stable for 18–23° angles of attack and higher, where the angle of attack indicating the onset of the stable region depended on the physiology of the flyer. The lack of experimental data for wingsuit flight in the literature made the full 3D validation of the CFD results impossible to achieve. Nevertheless, the results of the 3D wingsuit were thoroughly analyzed and compared to those for rectangular flat plate wings of similar aspect ratio at the same Reynolds number. The results compared well and indicated that the designed wingsuit should perform well aerodynamically under typical wingsuit flying conditions. This study paves the way for practical wingsuit design for commercial use.


English (en)


Dr. Ramesh Agarwal

Committee Members

Dr. Ramesh Agarwal Dr. Qiulin Qu Dr. David Peters


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