Vortices from the Window Seat

Trails of mist coming out of the back of an airplane wing
Isuzu Motors America, Inc., photograph by Norihiko Oda, courtesy of Visualization Society of Japan

Don't panic the next time you notice what looks like a stream of fuel leaking from your airliner's wing. At the right temperature, the water vapor in the wing tip vortices will condense into visible trails of mist. Wing tips are not the only place where such vortices form. Here, they stream off the edges of the wing's flaps.

Categories: Aerodynamics, Wings