Technical Seminar: Understanding the Flight of the Boomerang

Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Programs Hamid Rahai left, welcomes John Vassberg to CSULB.

Have you ever wondered how boomerangs fly? John Vassberg has. One of Boeing’s top aerodynamicists, Vassberg was at CSULB Friday to deliver one his most popular lectures—one that delves into the aerodynamic capabilities of a hunting tool developed by Aboriginal Australians thousands of years ago.

“It’s turned out to be a cult classic,” said Vassberg, who has given the talk in Paris and Brussels and at Caltech and University of Southern California. “Maybe I’ll teach you something so you’ll have something to do over the weekend,” he told faculty and students at the Spring Technical Seminar.

Now Technical Lead and Chief Aerodynamicist of Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Advanced Concepts Design Center in Southern California, Vassberg did the research back in 2012 when he was asked to present at an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conference. Continue reading “Technical Seminar: Understanding the Flight of the Boomerang”

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. Continue reading “Boeing Technical Fellow to Discuss Boomerang Aerodynamics”