Charles H. Zimmerman

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Charles H. Zimmerman
Zimmerman with tiltwing model.jpg
Zimmerman with a wind tunnel model
Born 1908
Olathe, Kansas, USA
Died May 5, 1996(1996-05-05)
Hampton, Virginia, USA
Nationality American
Education University of Kansas
University of Virginia
Spouse(s) Beatrice

Charles H. Zimmerman

Craig S. Zimmerman
Engineering career
Engineering discipline Aeronautical engineering
Institution memberships National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
Significant projects Vought XF5U
Significant design Vought V-173
Significant awards Wright Brothers Medal

Charles Horton Zimmerman (1908 – 5 May 1996), was an aeronautical engineer, whose work on novel airfoil configurations led to several notable experimental aircraft programs.

Early work[edit]

The 5 Foot Vertical Wind Tunnel was built to study spinning characteristics of aircraft. It was an open throat tunnel capable of a maximum speed of 80 mph. NACA engineer Charles H. Zimmerman designed the tunnel starting in 1928.

Zimmerman worked at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in the 1930s on a variety of research topics, including loads,[1][2][3] airfoils,[4][5] and aircraft stability and design.[6][7] During this time, he was also thinking about much more novel aspects of flight, especially how stability might be maintained. He theorized that the natural balancing reflexes of a person could be adequate to control very small flight vehicles, a concept he called "kinesthetic control". He was also interested in aspects that could lead to Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing aircraft.

Novel Flight Vehicles[edit]

In 1953, Hiller Aircraft contracted with the Office of Naval Research to combine several research ideas, including Zimmerman's "kinesthetic" theory, to produce an airworthy "flying platform". The project was classified and conducted at Hiller's Advanced Research Division. In 1954, the prototype model 1031 was delivered. A 1956 Army contract produced the larger VZ-1 Pawnee.

Zimmerman's research[4] also posited aircraft having flat circular bodies, sans wings, as their lifting surface. In the 1940s, Zimmerman and the Navy began researching this idea, which led to the Vought XF5U, nicknamed the "flying pancake".



  1. ^ M. J. Bamber and C. H. Zimmerman (1933) Effect of stabilizer location upon pitching and yawing moments in spins as shown by tests with the spinning balance, NACA TN-474.
  2. ^ M. J. Bamber and C. H. Zimmerman (1935) The aerodynamic forces and moments on a spinning model of the F4B-2 airplane as measured by the spinning balance, NACA TN-517.
  3. ^ M. J. Bamber and C. H. Zimmerman (1936) Spinning characteristics of wings I : rectangular Clark Y monoplane wing, NACA TN-519.
  4. ^ a b C. H. Zimmerman (1933) Characteristics of Clark Y airfoils of small aspect ratios, NACA TN-431.
  5. ^ C. H. Zimmerman (1935) Aerodynamic characteristics of several airfoils of low aspect ratio, NACA TN-539.
  6. ^ C. H. Zimmerman (1936) An analysis of longitudinal stability in power-off flight with charts for use in design, NACA TN-521.
  7. ^ C. H. Zimmerman (1936) Effect of changes in tail arrangement upon the spinning of a low-wing monoplane model, NACA TN-570.
  8. ^ C. H. Zimmerman (1957) Some general considerations concerning VTOL aircraft, Society of Automotive Engineers paper number 570018.

External links[edit]