Research on laminar flow and its transition to turbulent flow has been an important part of fluid dynamics research during the last sixty years. Since transition impacts, in some way, every aspect of aircraft performance, this emphasis is not only understandable but should continue well into the future. The delay of transition through the use of a favorable pressure gradient by proper body shaping (natural laminar flow) or the use of a small amount of suction (laminar flow control) was recognized even in the early 1930s and rapidly became the foundation of much of the laminar flow research in the U.S. and abroad. As one would expect, there have been many approaches, both theoretical and experimental, employed to achieve the substantial progress made to date. Boundary layer stability theories have been formu lated and calibrated by a good deal of wind tunnel and flight experiments. New laminar now airfoils and wings have been designed and many have been employed in aircraft designs. While the early research was, of necessity, concerned with the design of subsonic aircraft interest has steadily moved to higher speeds including those appropriate to planetary entry. Clearly, there have been substantial advances in our understanding of transition physics and in the development and application of transition prediction methodolo gies to the design of aircraft.
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