By 1stLt Eric Perquin, CAP.
Omaha Composite Squadron Aerospace Education Officer
In Aerospace Education it is not ‘Rocket Science’ figuring out that Cadets prefer a hands on approach over a classroom presentation. As the old adage goes, “the best way to learn something is to get your hands dirty” or in this case “wet”. With that in mind the Omaha Composite Squadrons AE program set about to try a new approach to demonstrating aerodynamics: Kayaking.
Upon meeting at the Lake Wherspan boat ramp the Cadets were given some basic instructions on the fundamentals of kayaking. On hand were 8 kayaks representing 4 different hull designs. After a safety briefing and a gear check it was time to hit the water.
After a few minutes of familiarization with the handling of their kayaks we moved on to the experiments. It became immediately apparent that the boats handled differently depending on the design. We discussed the principles of Pitch, Roll and Yaw and applied them to the kayaks stability in the water. Two hull designs were very maneuverable but less stable. Another had the handling characteristics of a B-52 yet was smooth as silk through the water. Our fourth design was a pleasing compromise between the other two. Cadets also noticed that the more maneuverable the kayaks were the slower and harder they were to maintain in a straight line.