Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kopp-Etchells Effect

When helicopters pass through dust storms, contact of the particles with the rotating blades produces either sparks or static electricity.

The phenomenon has been observed during combat operations in Afghanistan; Michael Yon has documented the effect, and has named it after two U K Soldiers who died there.


When operating in sandy environments, sand hitting the moving rotor blades erodes their surface. This can damage to the rotors presents serious and costly maintenance problems.

The abrasion strips on helicopter rotor blades are made of titanium,
which is very hard, but less hard than sand. So when a helicopter is flown near to the ground in desert environments abrasion occurs,
and at night there is a visible corona, or halo, around the rotor blades,
caused by the sand hitting the titanium and causing it to spark and oxidize.

As damaging as it is, it is also quiet pretty, eerie and awesome.


Matty said...

I would imagine it also lights them up and makes them an easier target.

Anonymous said...

It adds to the frightening look of those killing machines.

Mala said...

That is an incredible sight.
Thanks for sharing.

AirmanMom said...

love. these. photos.
so very intensely beautiful.
Velvet and steel.
good post, Mr. Coffeypot!

Pamela said...

I read Yon's on line magainze all the time