Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Koenig, Keith

Committee Member

Lacy, Thomas E.

Committee Member

Janus, J. Mark

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Aerospace Engineering


In this study, the aerodynamic effects on an American football are characterized, especially in a tumbling, or end-over-end, motion as seen in a typical kickoff or field goal attempt. The objective of this study is to establish aerodynamic coefficients for the dynamic motion of a tumbling American football. A subsonic wind tunnel was used to recreate a range of air velocities that, when coupled with rotation rates and differing laces orientations, would provide a test bed for aerodynamic drag, side, and lift coefficient analysis. Test results quantify effect of back-spin and top-spin on lift force. Results show that the presence of laces imposes a side force in the opposite direction of the laces orientation. A secondary system was installed to visualize air flow around the tumbling ball and record high-speed video of wake patterns, as a qualitative check of measured force directions.