An experimental investigation of the viscous decay of a steady, three-dimensional, helical vortex is presented. The vortex was generated by a rectangular, symmetrical half aerofoil (N.A.C.A. 0009) of 10·5 in. span, 3 in. chord, cantilevered from the wall of the circular test section of a low speed wind tunnel. Only the local total head and flow directions were measured with a five-hole pressure sensitive probe at one to eight chord lengths behind the trailing edge of the aerofoil, and the radial, tangential and axial velocity distributions in the trailing vortex were derived. The static pressure variation in the vortex flow and the difficulties in its accurate measurement are discussed. All tests were performed at a Reynolds number based on the free-stream velocity and chord length of the aerofoil of 10,000.
The various experimental velocity distributions in the vortex were in good agreement with a linearised, axi-symmetric, laminar, incompressible, viscous vortex due to Newman. The decay of velocity and geometry parameters, however, were found to be approximately eight to ten times faster than predicted by the analysis based on a laminar kinematic viscosity. It was also observed that the amount of circulation which actually rolled up in the trailing vortex was only about 58 per cent of that expected around the (N.A.C.A. 0009) aerofoil used for this investigation.