Would it be technically feasible to install the Pneumagic inflatable wing on the Silent glider?


1 Answer 1


Here are some of my thoughts. I'm not fully convinced about the tradeoffs though, which would require a little more work to figure out if it was beneficial:

  • The wing appears a lot thicker in the article than in the silent glider, adding more drag than the solid wing which it currently uses. To get it as thin would be challenge, since the article suggests that the benefit of adding pressure is marginal for the same wing, so you could only make it thicker. In an convential design, the fabric can be a lot thinner than here were it's got to hold a lot pressure. I'm sure you have to add metal wires to maintain the shape under load, adding a weight penalty.

  • Using a pure air-based system, I'm also somewhat unconvinced about the 'responsiveness' at the controls, since You'd only be transferring the loads at a single point into the (flexible) structure, rather than across an area as in the article example. An analogy of this is to think of trying to apple a torque force to the center of a pool noodle in water, and to observe the ends relative to the center. You might end up having to make a rather extensive wing root structure to make this work.

  • The benefit would be portability, but since the silent glider has an engine, this would probably not be of a huge concern, since you could get it where you wanted it.

My verdict: It could probably be done, but I'm doubtful about the performance benefits. Then again, I'm only a first year aerospace engineering student, so you're welcome to come with thoughts and any criticism :)

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    $\begingroup$ "trying to apple a torque force to the center of a pool noodle in water,".... What??? :-) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ energykitesystems.net/Lift/2011/2011janLIFT.html These people are trying to build a backpack-able 55lb ultra-portable glider. These are NASA's inflatable wings. youtube.com/watch?v=4SBi9Bffbb4#t=262 Do you thing something equally rigid could be used for gliding. And what is the difference, in material, between this and the Pneumagic. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AyanMullick The problem which I primarily see strapping it onto the silent glider is that there is a large increase in weight by adding on an engine and fuselage, which would require it to be a thicker or faster, but I'm pretty sure it could be done, but the benefits would maybe not great. The structure dosen't seem to have a great glide ratio, since the surface isn't smooth. The main difference between the two aircraft appears to be the air pocket structure size. principle is the same. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Manfred For the sake of portability,is there any inflatable wing available or in the making that would adequately replace the rigid wing of the Silent Glider ? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ @AyanMullick I don't think so. The inflatable wing dosen't seem to have developed yet even in unpowered cases so at the moment, I don't think so. you might be able to get a wing though which detached and folded in two to fold in flat again the fuselage to save space, like can be done with many conventional (stiff) glider wings. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 23:14

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