The Michigan Engineer News Center

Boomerang flight dynamics | an aerodynamics lecture

The new aerodynamic model is coupled with a gyroscope model for rudimentary analyses.| Short Read


Aerodynamic characteristics and flight dynamics of boomerangs are investigated. A basic aerodynamic model, developed in the 1960’s, is expanded upon using Blade Element Theory.

The new aerodynamic model is coupled with a gyroscope model for rudimentary analyses. Some significant findings are made regarding the radius of a boomerang’s circular flight path, the required inclination angle of its axis-of-rotation, its trim state, as well as its dynamic stability. These discoveries provide a basic understanding of how the interplay between aero-dynamic forces and moments, and gyroscopic precession combine to return the boomerang to its rightful owner by way of a circular flight path.

Watch the lecture on-demand

Speaker Bio

Dr. Vassberg is the Lead Aerodynamicist and Engineer of the BCA Design Center in Southern California. Prior to this, he was Chief Aerodynamicist of Boeing’s Research & Technology organization.

Dr. Vassberg holds over a dozen Patents related to aerodynamic technologies, and has authored over 100 publications. In addition, Dr. Vassberg has introduced and developed new fields of numerical simulation including: in-flight refueling hose-drogue dynamics, towed-decoy dynamics, fast surface-paneling techniques, and globally-elliptic meshing methods.

Dr. Vassberg received his PhD from the University of Southern California in 1992, and his MS and BS from Texas A&M University in 1981 and 1980, respectively, all in Aerospace Engineering.


Sponsored by the Aerospace Department in the College of Engineering

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Kimberly Johnson
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Aerospace Engineering

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The outside of the Ford Robotics building

U-Michigan, Ford open world-class robotics complex

The facility will accelerate the future of advanced and more equitable robotics and mobility | Medium Read