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Nelson, Reymond Charles
'Groovy' Aerodynamics in Pre-European Australia
Australian Journal of Multi-disciplinary Engineering
Description of Work
Paper presented at the National Engineering Heritage Conference (11th: 2001 : Canberra)
vol. 2, no. 1, Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2004, pp. 1-7

Testing of fluted boomerangs and throwing sticks has shown that the Australian Aborigine preceded Western civilisation by thousands of years in the application of some aerodynamic technologies. At first glance it may seem that the longitudinal flutes on the distinctive throwing sticks and hunting boomerangs of Central and Western Australia must diminish their aerodynamic performance. Nothing could be further from the truth. These surface features enhance the performance. Wind tunnel tests show large drag force reductions in the case of throwing sticks and large lift force increases in the case of boomerangs. The fluting alone is responsible for the improved performance. In fact it can be shown that, without the fluting, some boomerangs may not have flown at all.