The formation of ice upon exposed parts of an airplane in flight

Carroll, Thomas Mcavoy, Wm H
naca-tn-293
July 1928


In order to experimentally study the conditions leading to ice formation on aircraft surfaces, an aircraft was equipped with small auxiliary surfaces and aerodynamic shapes similar to struts, wires, Pitot heads, etc. This airplane was flown at an altitude where a temperature of 32 F was encountered, at such times as cloud formations could be found at the coincident altitude. Here it was discovered that ice formed rapidly in regard to quantity,character, shape, and rapidity of formation. An examination of this data, which confirms observations of pilots, indicates that the weight of ice collected can very possibly be sufficient to force the airplane to rapidly lose altitude on account of the increased loads. However, it is more evident that the malformation of the aerodynamic shapes may so increase the drag and reduce the lift so as to produce a loss of altitude even greater in consequence, the combination of the two working in the same direction having a double effect. Other adverse consequences are noted. The recommendation for the guidance of those who must encounter these conditions appears to lie entirely along the lines of avoidance.

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