Ground influence on airfoils

Arthur E. Raymond
Dec 1921

The question of ground influence on airplanes has recently attracted some attention in view of the claims made by certain designers that the landing speed of their airplanes is much decreased by an increase in lift coefficient due to the proximity of the ground in landing. The results of wind tunnel tests indicate that ground effect is not entirely beneficial. It decreases the landing speed and cushions the landing shock somewhat. However, it does so at the expense of an increased length of preliminary skimming over the ground. By decreasing the drag and increasing the lift, it lengthens the distance necessary for the airplane to travel before losing enough speed to land. On the other hand, its influence is helpful in taking off, especially in the case of flying boats with their low-lying wings. In the conventional tractor airplane, the height of the wings above the ground is determined largely by propeller clearance. However, a small low-speed airplane like the Pischoff and large low-speed commercial aircraft with engines between wings can utilize ground influence to good advantage.

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