Inspired by animals, flapping wing propulsion has been of interest since the early 1900s. Flapping hydrofoil propulsion has been attempted by designers of human powered watercraft because of the novelty and the apparent high theoretical efficiency, but with limited success. The earliest human powered hydrofoil, the Wasserlaufer, was invented by Julius Schuck in 1953. The first really successful human powered hydrofoil, the Trampofoil, was invented by Alexander Sahlin in 1998. While these craft function adequately the design data for flapping hydrofoils is inadequate or not available. This paper describes an experimental program and initial results for the required data. To design a vehicle with a lifting and thrusting oscillating hydrofoil the force that the hydrofoil will exert on the vehicle through its entire oscillating cycle must ideally be known. The force profiles could be estimated via quasi-static calculations based on steady flow lift and drag coefficients, but these often do not cover the full 360 degree range that can be required and there is doubt that the steady flow coefficients properly represent the dynamic situation of an oscillating hydrofoil. Hence a valuable process would be one that could determine dynamic drag and lift coefficient loops as function of the Strouhal number, heaving and pitching profiles. To work toward the collection of this information, experimental data is being recorded in a towing tank with an oscillating NACA4415 hydrofoil over a range of Strouhal numbers and types of oscillating profiles. While there are still some limitations to the experimental equipment preliminary experimental results show the limitations of using quasi-static calculations and go some way to providing the design data for the hydrofoil section tested. We conclude that quasi-static calculations based on the gliding coefficient curve for for an oscillating hydrofoil are only valid for very small Strouhal numbers (St≪0.05). We have shown that as the Strouhal number increases, the error in such calculations increases very rapidly. We also note that the lift coefficient of the hydrofoil has a strong dependence on the angle of attack and is not affected by the gliding stall.

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