Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Weaver Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Sean Bailey


UAV development and usage has increased dramatically in the last 15 years. In this time frame the potential has been realized for deployable UAVs to the extent that a new class of UAV was defined for these systems. Inflatable wing UAVs provide a unique solution for deployable UAVs because they are highly packable (some collapsing to 5-10% of their deployed volume) and have the potential for the incorporation of wing shaping. In this thesis, aerodynamic coefficients and aileron effectiveness were derived from the equations of motion of aircraft as necessary parameters for autonomous flight. A wind tunnel experiment was performed to determine the aerodynamic performance of a bumpy inflatable wing airfoil for comparison with the baseline smooth airfoil from which it was derived. Results showed that the bumpy airfoil has improved aerodynamics over the smooth airfoil at low-Re. The results were also used to create aerodynamic performance curves to supplement results of aerodynamic modeling with a smooth airfoil. A modeling process was then developed to calculate the aileron effectiveness of a wing shaping demonstrator aircraft. Successful autonomous flight tests were then performed with the demonstrator aircraft including in-flight aileron doublets to validate the predicted aileron effectiveness, which matched within 8%.