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An optical angle of attack sensor

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2 Author(s)
McDevitt, T.K. ; Complere Inc., Palo Alto, CA, USA ; Owen, F.K.

A major source of transonic and supersonic wind-tunnel test data uncertainty are angle-of-attack-measurement errors caused by unknown sting and balance deflections under load. Since dynamic loads in pressurized or cryogenic wind tunnels generally exceed those in conventional low-speed atmospheric wind tunnels, the need to account for these distortions during model testing is even more acute. A novel laser-based instrument for the in-situ measurement of wind-tunnel-model angle of attack that enables continuous, time-dependent measurements to be made without signal dropout is described. Proof-of-concept experiments, along with the results of recent measurements conducted at the NASA Ames 9-ft*7-ft supersonic wind tunnel, are presented. Experiments were also conducted to determine the reliable range, sensitivity, and long-term stability of the instrument. The results show that 0.01 degrees sensitivity can be achieved and that optical and detector packaging requirements are less stringent than those for current tilt-sensor or accelerometer model installations.<>

Published in:

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 2 )