These notes are intended to fill a significant gap in the literature available to students. There is a huge disparity between the aerodynamics covered in typical aerodynamics courses and the application of aerodynamic theory to design and analysis problems using computational methods. As an elective course for seniors, Applied Computational Aerodynamics provides an opportunity for students to gain insight into the methods and means by which aerodynamics is currently practiced. The specific threefold objective is: i) physical insight into aerodynamics that can arise only with the actual calculation and subsequent analysis of flowfields, ii) development of engineering judgment to answer the question “how do you know the answer is right?” and iii) establishment of a foundation for future study in computational aerodynamics; exposure to a variety of methods, terminology, and jargon.

Two features are unique. First, when derivations are given, all the steps in the analysis are included. Second, virtually all the examples used to illustrate applied aerodynamics ideas were computed by the author, and were made using the codes available to the students. The exercises are an extremely important component of the course, where parts of the course are possibly best presented as a workshop, rather than as a series of formal lectures. To meet the objectives, many “old fashioned” methods are included. Using these methods a student can learn much more about aerodynamic design than by performing a few large modern calculations. For example (articulated to the author by Prof. Ilan Kroo), the vortex lattice method allows the student to develop an excellent mental picture of the flowfield. Thus these methods provide a context within which to understand Euler or Navier-Stokes calculations.


We presume that the reader has had standard undergraduate courses in fluid mechanics and aerodynamics. In some cases the material is repeated to illustrate issues important to computational aerodynamics. Access to a computer and the ability to program is assumed for the exercises.


Computational aerodynamics is still in an evolutionary phase. Although most of the material in the early chapters is essentially well established, the viewpoint adopted in the latter chapters is necessarily a “snapshot” of the field at this time. Students that enter the field can expect to use this material as a starting point in understanding the continuing evolution of computational aerodynamics.

These notes are not independent of other texts. At this point several of the codes used in the instruction are based on source codes copyrighted in other sources. Use of these codes without owning the text may be a violation of the copyright law.

The traditional printed page is inadequate and obsolete for the presentation of computational aerodynamics information. The reader should be alert to advances in information presentation, and take every opportunity to make use of advanced color displays, interactive flowfield visualization and virtual environment technology.

The codes available on disk provide a significant capability for skilled users. However, as discussed in the text, few computational aerodynamics codes are ever developed and tested to the level that they are bug free. They are for educational use only, and are only aides for education, not commercial programs, although they are entirely representative of codes in current use.


Many friends and colleagues have influenced the contents of these notes. Specifically, they reflect many years developing and applying computational aerodynamics at Grumman, which had more than its share of top flight aerodynamicists. Initially at Grumman and now at VPI, Bernard Grossman provided access to his as yet unpublished CFD course notes. At NASA, many friends have contributed help, insight and computer programs. Nathan Kirschbaum read the notes and made numerous contributions to the content and clarity. Several classes of students have provided valuable feedback, found typographical and actual errors. They have also insisted that the notes and codes be completed. I would like to acknowledge these contributions.

W.H. Mason

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