The design of winglets for high-performance sailplanes

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

10 Scopus citations


Although theoretical tools for the design of winglets for high-performance sailplanes were initially of limited value, simple methods were used to design winglets that gradually became accepted as benefiting overall sailplane performance. To further these gains, an improved methodology for winglet design has been developed. This methodology incorporates a detailed component drag buildup that includes the ability to interpolate input airfoil drag and moment data across operational lift coefficient, Reynolds number, and flap-setting ranges. Induced drag is initially predicted using a relatively fast multi- lifting line method. In the final stages of the design process, a full panel method, including relaxed-wake modeling, is employed. The drag predictions are used to compute speed polars for both level and turning flight. The predicted performance is in good agreement with flight-test results. The straight and turning flight speed polars are then used to obtain cross-country performance over a range of thermal strengths, sizes, and shapes. Example design cases presented here demonstrate that winglets can provide a small, but important, performance advantage over much of the operating range for both span limited and span unlimited high-performance sailplanes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2001
Event19th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference 2001 - Anaheim, CA, United States
Duration: Jun 11 2001Jun 14 2001


Other19th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference 2001
CountryUnited States
CityAnaheim, CA


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this

Maughmer, M. D. (2001). The design of winglets for high-performance sailplanes. Paper presented at 19th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference 2001, Anaheim, CA, United States.