Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Douglas F. Hunsaker


The design of an aircraft wing often involves the use of mathematical methods for simultaneous aerodynamic and structural design. The goal of many of these methods is to minimize the drag on the wing. A variety of computer models exist for this purpose, but some require the use of expensive time and computational resources to give meaningful results. As an alternative, some mathematical methods have been developed that give reason ably accurate results without the need for a computer. However, most of these methods can only be used for wings with specific shapes and payload distributions. In this thesis, a hybrid mathematical/computational approach to wing design is developed that can be used for wings of any shape with any payload distribution. Specific mathematical expressions are found to predict the weight and drag for tapered wings and elliptic-shaped wings. The new approach and mathematical expressions are used to find the best distribution of lift on a variety of aircraft wing configurations to minimize drag during flight.