“How can we analyze how objects fly without flying?”
Whether it be the drones used to deliver boxes, planes to fly across the world, or satellites launched into space, flight has revolutionized human society. As such, these systems need to be tested rigorously before operation. But doing in-flight analysis is not only difficult but expensive. So how could we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? To begin, let’s think about what makes in-flight analysis so improbable. After searching, we should find that it’s controlling the and maintaining the vehicle while in flight moving with respect to the wind. But we also know from basic physics that one object moving against another object in a frame of reference in respect to a stationary object is the same as the latter moving while the former is static. So logically, if we can control the wind and keep the machine stationary, the analysis should be the same or similar. And if we can take from our HVAC systems knowledge then we know that we can control airflow using a VAV setup. So how about we construct a facility that can hold an object in a steady position while the air blows on it? Well, this is known as a wind tunnel, and is employed by NASA to simulate drag on their aircraft!