This study is concerned with the theoretical and quantitative experimental determination of critical loads which separate stable from unstable states of equilibrium of a mechanical system subjected to the action of an impinging fluid jet. It was found that the type of loss of stability is determined by the properties of the surface upon which the jet impinges. For a smooth surface, stability was lost by divergence (static buckling), whereas for a surface with a screen of certain mesh size, stability was lost by flutter (oscillations with increasing amplitudes). The experimental results have been compared with a theoretical stability analysis of this nonconservative system and a satisfactory correlation of numerical values is shown to exist, particularly if the peculiar effects of damping are accounted for.

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