I like to know the usual ratio of wing area over weight in birds and airplanes?

I mean if total weight of an airplane is 100 Lbs(Kg), how much should be the least total area of it's wings?

And also like to know this ratio in birds, if there are information about?

I need this ratio to estimate the wings size, if I want to create an aircraft to lift different weights(it's weight + load weight).

For example, if a person with 150 Lbs wants to fly, how much should be the least area of his wings?

  • $\begingroup$ Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. $\endgroup$
    – anshabhi
    Dec 27 '18 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ Unmotorized? Look at a hang glider for example. hanggliding.org/wiki/Choosing_your_first_wing shows wing area of 16.2m^2 for 60-100kg pilot. 70kg is abut 150 lb. So 16.2/70 = 0.23 m^2/kg. The conversion to get sq ft/lb is left as an exercise for the reader. Motorized, you can find similar small ultralight aircraft, wing areas are not a whole lot bigger, empty weight <= 155kg, small frame, limited fuel, and 1 cylinder engines. See the "ATF light trike" here as an example northwing.com/atf-trike.aspx $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Dec 28 '18 at 13:14

From 'The Simple Science of Flight', by Henk Tennekes, MIT Press


enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Everything but a swallow, African, European, or otherwise, laden with a coconut or not.... $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Dec 27 '18 at 21:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Swallows are mentioned in pages 15 and 24 of the reference... $\endgroup$
    – xxavier
    Dec 28 '18 at 8:04

A Cessna 172S, which is a fairly recent airplane (less than 20 years old) with 4 seats, has a Wing Loading of 14.7 Lbs/Sq ft. In your terms, 0.068 sq ft/lb.

A 1977 Cessn 150, 2 seat trainer, has a wing loading of 10 Lbs/Sq ft. Or, 0.1 sq ft/lb.

A 1973 Cessna 177, a sleeker version of the 177 (more streamlined, no struts), has a wing loading of 14.4 Lbs/Sq ft. Or, 0.069 sq ft/lb

An adult male barn swallow has a wingspan of 32–34.5 cm (12.6–13.6 in) and weighs 16–22 g (0.56–0.78 oz). Lets say the extended wings are 3" front to back for simplicity, as I don't see any numbers on wing size. Then 13.6 inch x 3 inch = 40.8 square inches, or 0.28 sq ft. Pick an average weight, 0.67 oz = 0.041 lbs, and the result is 0.28 sq ft/0.041 lbs = 6.68 sq ft/lb.

Similar math can be done for other birds. Go pick one and work it out.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "A Cessna 172S, which is a fairly recent airplane" The -S may get a pass (1998), somebody but calling the 172 airframe recent makes me reach for my wooden stake and silver cross :) $\endgroup$ Dec 27 '18 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ Also, you forgot to specify whether this is an European or African swallow. $\endgroup$ Dec 27 '18 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Well, Cessna is still making them, and folks & schools are still buying them. cessna.txtav.com/en/piston/cessna-skyhawk#_model-top Not sure what the current model letter designation is. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Dec 27 '18 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ Latest model? Not available new anymore "... a diesel-powered model, to be designated the 172 Skyhawk TD ("Turbo Diesel") starting in mid-2008. The planned engine was to be a Thielert Centurion 2.0, liquid-cooled, two-liter displacement, dual overhead cam, four-cylinder, in-line, turbo-diesel with full authority digital engine control with an output of 155 hp and burning Jet-A fuel. In July 2013 the 172TD model was canceled due to Thielert's bankruptcy. The aircraft was later refined into the Turbo Skyhawk JT-A, which was certified in June 2014 and discontinued in May 2018." From Wikipedia $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Dec 27 '18 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ @CrossRoads The C172S is still in production. $\endgroup$
    – bartonjs
    Dec 27 '18 at 18:57

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