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4 Answers

Why is it called “angle of attack?”

Asked by: 5519 views , ,
General Aviation

I know what it MEANS...but can anyone hazard a guess as to why "angle of attack" is called "angle of attack?"

Could it be because one is "attacking" the wind at specific angle?

Just have always been curious...odd term.

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4 Answers

  1. Wesley Beard on Jan 06, 2011

    There are no books that I have read recently that explain why it is called “Angle of Attack”.  In my best educated guess, we know the airfoil pierces or penetrates the air and it separates around the air at the leading edge.  So the engineers decided to say it was attacking the wind.  Like I said, this is only my guess.

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  2. MaggotCFII on Jan 08, 2011

    This is from Wikipedia for “Angle of Attack”:
    “Angle of attack (AOA, α, Greek letter alpha) is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body (often the chord line of an airfoil) and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving. Angle of attack is the angle between the lifting body’s reference line and the oncoming flow. This article focuses on the most common application, the angle of attack of a wing or airfoil moving through air.”
    Looking around Fluid Dynamics, where term seems to have origination, found the “KUTTA Condition”.  A bit lengthy to copy to here, interesting read.  Again Wikipedia has an easy to read article.  And lots of links to further information.
    Learned some – good question!

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  3. Curtis Ide on Jan 10, 2011

    I don’t have any concrete answers but found something interesting and then used my imagination a little. 
    Most works leading into the early discovery of aerodynamics involved the study of birds.  Sir George Cayley is considered one of the first scientist to recognize the idea of angle of attack by recognizing the angle of the wing opposed the “horizontal current of air.”  He also looked at the ability of the bird to change the position of their wings to increase the angle between the wind and their wings. 
    Using my imagination – I wonder if the name angle of attack has to do with the birds and the changing angles and speeds prior to an attack.
    Thats as much as I could find but seems liked enought to share.
    Nice topic!

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  4. SkyBoy98046 on Jan 15, 2011

    A bird attacks the prey head-on. Like the first response (wesley’s), the leading edge of the wing is attacking the wind forward at relative level. As the angle changes against this attack, you become less head-on increasing to a stall. I think your answer lies in defining the words used to describe the idea.

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The following terms have been auto-detected the question above and any answers or discussion provided. Click on a term to see its definition from the Dauntless Aviation JargonBuster Glossary.

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