Do you have any info on this strange wing endings used on Stemme glider?

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  • $\begingroup$ These wing endings were part of an experimental series aimed at reducing induced drag. These wing endings offer the performance of much longer wings. $\endgroup$
    – DSarkar
    Jul 31, 2015 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ @D_S If you have any kind of reference, I would upvote that answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2015 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ "Courtesy of" means you got permission to repost the picture. Did you get permission or are you just saying where you found it? $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2015 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


This was a test aimed at measuring the effect of feathered wingtips. The Stemme S-10 has a four-part wing, and for the experiment the outer wing panels were removed and replaced by five staggered small wings, as shown on the picture in your question. This reduces wingspan from 23 m to only 11.4 m plus the span of the wingtips, in total maybe 14 m.

A feathered wingtip shows less induced drag than a straight wing of identical span, similar to a winglet, because it can involve a bigger mass of air into the creation of lift. But it cannot perform wonders, the effect is small.

The concept behind this experiment is called "winggrid" and the brainchild of Dr. U. La Roche. See here for one of the few still active sites on the topic - the original site http://www.winggrid.ch has long been abandoned.

Sad fact: This aircraft was destroyed in a mid-air collision in 2007. At that time, it had been reverted to the original wingtips.

  • $\begingroup$ So feathered wingtips were not very effective? $\endgroup$
    – Andrius
    Aug 3, 2015 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrius: Don't expect miracles. They work well in special circumstances, and most birds are presumably very happy with them - only seafowl and swallows have pointed tips. As soon as you need to fly through the occasional thicket of branches, they are the preferred solution. Then of course without the tip reinforcement shown on the Stemme. $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2015 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrius: Now I found one site which still mentions the winggrid concept behind this experiment. I edited the answer accordingly. Don't click on the winggrid.ch link - this site is abandoned and now full of annoying ads. $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2015 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterKämpf, IIRC the main reason why most birds have feathered wing tips is that they are quieter, which is why they are so prominent in owls and birds of prey. Swallows and swifts that hunt in the air and so need high manoeuvrability and sea birds that can't hope to get help from thermals, and thus need efficiency most, have pointed wingtips. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Aug 31, 2015 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JanHudec: Ah, good point! My understanding so far was that feathered wingtips give more area at the tips and better maneuverability around twigs and branches, and all that with limited span. Seafowl have more span and raked wingtips, because the ocean surface has much less underwood. $\endgroup$ Aug 31, 2015 at 6:32

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