Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Vortex shedding and frequency selection in flapping flight

a1 Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, NY 10012, USA


Motivated by our interest in unsteady aerodynamics of insect flight, we devise a computational tool to solve the Navier–Stokes equation around a two-dimensional moving wing, which mimics biological locomotion. The focus of the present work is frequency selection in forward flapping flight. We investigate the time scales associated with the shedding of the trailing- and leading-edge vortices, as well as the corresponding time-dependent forces. We present a generic mechanism of the frequency selection as a result of unsteady aerodynamics.

(Received October 26 1998)
(Revised November 15 1999)

p1 Permanent address: Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA; email: