Watch this video first.
The Mythbusters later tested the golf ball theory on a real car by attaching padding made from clay on the car body and later on dimpled the padding. They got better mileage from the ‘dimpled’ car in comparison to the smooth surface car. At the end, the concluded this theory as plausible.
Here comes my idea; let’s do this on an airplane.
This goes back to the original theory, golf ball having less wake (watch video posted) while traveling in the air because of the dimples. Since airplane also travels in the air (duh~) this theory can also be applied to it.
In the aviation world, the wake of an aircraft is so big that it could cause airplanes to crash. Wake or wake turbulence are caused by the aircraft, particularly the wings slicing through air at high speed to produce lift. The industry has been working hard to produce aircraft that produces less wake.
I don’t think this theory is applicable to land vehicles mainly because the wake produced by land vehicles is not enough to substantially affect it’s movement. Although the Mythbusters have proven the theory works on a car, we should take note that it was proven in an experimental environment – the car was driven up to a mile on a constant speed without obstruction at all. It won’t probably work in a real life environment due to traffic, car braking, etc. thus probably their reason to conclude it as plausible.
In my opinion, I’d suggest dimpling the whole aircraft body except for the wings. Larger aircraft wings produces more lift and by larger means having more surface. I don’t know whether dimpling the wings could produce either more surface or less (some maths required here) but let’s just stay away from the wings first.
To make this possible the material of the aircraft body must be able to be dimpled and strong enough at the same time. Carbon fiber maybe? Research needed for the right material.
The manufacturing industry also have to be transformed to produced dimpled body parts for the airplane.
Dimpled Body for Airplanes – idea by Ariff Shah.