Boeing Technical Fellow to Discuss Boomerang Aerodynamics

Boeing Technical Fellow John Vassberg will discuss the aerodynamic characteristics and flight dynamics of boomerangs at the Spring Technical Seminar at noon on Friday, Feb. 23 in the Niggli Conference Center (ECS-312). Students and faculty are invited to attend.

Dr. Vassberg will explain how blade theory can be used to expand upon a basic aerodynamic model developed in the 1960s. The new aerodynamic model is coupled with a gyroscope model for rudimentary analyses. The approach has generated significant findings 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 aerodynamic forces and moments, and gyroscopic precession combine to return the boomerang to its rightful owner by way of a circular flight path.

Dr. Vassberg is Technical Lead and Chief Aerodynamicist of BCA Advanced Concepts Design Center in Southern California. He is a Boeing Technical Fellow, an AIAA Fellow, and recipient of the AIAA Aerodynamics Award in 2012 and the International Cooperation Award in 2017.

Prior to his current position, he was Chief Aerodynamicist of Boeing’s Research & Technology organization, and Principal Investigator of the Advanced Joint Air Combat System (AJACS), Speed-Agile Configuration Development (SACD) and Over-Wing Nacelle (OWN) programs. The SACD Program received the 2013 Aviation Week Laureate Award in Aero and Propulsion.

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.