Welcome to our new website

Dragonfly flight. III. Lift and power requirements.
JM Wakeling, CP Ellington


A mean lift coefficient quasi-steady analysis has been applied to the free flight of the dragonfly Sympetrum sanguineum and the damselfly Calopteryx splendens. The analysis accommodated the yaw and accelerations involved in free flight. For any given velocity or resultant aerodynamic force (thrust), the damselfly mean lift coefficient was higher than that for the dragonfly because of its clap and fling. For both species, the maximum mean lift coefficient L was higher than the steady CL,max. Both species aligned their strokes planes to be nearly normal to the thrust, a strategy that reduces the L required for flight and which is different from the previously published hovering and slow dragonfly flights with stroke planes steeply inclined to the horizontal. Owing to the relatively low costs of accelerating the wing, the aerodynamic power required for flight represents the mechanical power output from the muscles. The maximum muscle mass-specific power was estimated at 156 and 166 W kg-1 for S. sanguineum and C. splendens, respectively. Measurements of heat production immediately after flight resulted in mechanical efficiency estimates of 13 % and 9 % for S. sanguineum and C. splendens muscles, respectively.