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Journal Of Experimental Biology


This paper addresses the question, do the rotational forces in the hovering fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster reflect something different (the Magnus effect) or more of the same (circulatory-and-attached-vortex force)? The results of an unsteady blade-element model using empirically derived force coefficients from translating (root-oscillating) wings are compared with recent results derived from both the measured forces on a dynamically scaled Drosophila wing and the computational fluid dynamic (CFD)-modeled forces on a virtual Drosophila wing. The behavior of the forces in all three models during wing rotation supports the hypothesis that rotational lift is not a novel aerodynamic mechanism but is caused by the same fluid-dynamic mechanism that occurs during wing translation. A comparison of the unsteady model with a quasi-steady model that employs empirically derived rotational coefficients further supports the hypothesis that rotational forces are more of the same. Finally, the overall similarity of the results between the unsteady model, the physical wing model and the CFD model suggests that the unsteady model can be used to explore the performance consequences of kinematic variation and to investigate locomotor control in freely moving animals.


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