Fixed-Pitch Propellers

Unitary. Monolithic. Symmetrical from end to end. One piece. Zero moving parts. Whittled from a single, solid, laminated plank. How can something so seemingly simple be at once so confoundingly complex and mysterious? What riddles can such simple geometry as the spiral, the screw, hide within its subtle sectioned twists and graceful curves? Oak and Hickory and Mahogany and Pine, all comfortable materials from which one might make a chair or a bed, multiple parts assembled in far more complex, yet far more comforting ways than the simple, oddly uni-directional yet symmetrical form of the propeller. It vexes us so! The uninitiated are strangely drawn to it; visit any airport on a sunny day and find the mildly curious first-time visitors all drawn to the marvelous, sultry curves of the propeller. They don’t gather at the wing tips to admire the sculpted beauty there. They congragate at the mysterious end, the part that becomes invisible in motion-blur in the seminal act of engine start instead of waiting for the rest of the airplane to speed away to invisibility in the clouds or setting sun or just the far, far horizon. They know that it is ephemeral and magical, that propeller they so quizzically admire. So they touch it and wonder: Can it work? How can it work? How does it work? Does it work? An understanding of fixed-pitch propellers is necessary before examining the more complex varieties, so this is where we begin.