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What are Vortex Generators (also known as VG's)?

On most installations this are small fin or 'V' shaped protrusions attached to the leading edge of airplane wings and both sides of the vertical stabilizer forward of the rudder (as visible in the image above), and forward of the elevator on the lower surface or bottom of the stabilator.

What do VG's do?

As air flows over a wing, it sticks to the surface producing lift. As the angle of attack increases, the airflow starts to separate until the critical angle of attack is reached causing the airflow to separate completely creating a aerodynamic stall. These little VG's help optimize airflow over the wing or flight control surface by changing the direction of the airflow causing it to spin into tiny vortices. This spinning air travels over surface energizing and compressing the boundary layer of air holding it against the surface longer thereby making it more effective at lower airspeeds and higher angles of attack. 

 

What are the benefits of VG's? 

1) slower stall speeds by 5-25% depending on airframe 

2) shorter take off ground roll due to slower stall speeds

3) steeper climb angle

4) shorter landing distance due to slower approach speeds

5) reduced brake & tire wear due to less braking required for the lower speed landings

6) more control effectiveness at lower airspeeds

Will these save me money by improving performance?

Unfortunately there are no speed increases or fuel economy gains with these devices. However, it does add another level of safety to the aircraft.

 

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Click here to see a YouTube video of Scooter's comparison flying the Stinson 108 after installing the VGs on his plane showing the difference.  

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