Happy Thanksgiving! Here's How NOT to Cook Your Turkey.

Surface temperatures of a turkey flying supersonic speed (525 m/s). Thighs, legs and middle of bird risk being undercooked at lower flight times. (Picture courtesy of Rand Simulation).

This Thanksgiving will be like no other. COVID-19 has seen to that. So have engineers at Rand Simulation who plan to deliver a turkey to you like a ballistic missile that crashes onto your table fully cooked from the heat of supersonic flight.

If you think conventional oven baking is for grandparents, deep frying whole turkeys is passé... or you’re bored in an pre-holiday office without a boss or customers, you will appreciate Rand’s cooking suggestion: flying the turkey at supersonic speed and use aerodynamic heating to cook it. Why not?  You’ve seen the space vehicles glowing red-hot reentering the Earth’s orbit. SR-71 Blackbird pilots warmed their food on the titanium skin of the aircraft that would get so hot it would burn.

The sophistication of the supersonic turkey simulation is no laughing matter. In a multiphysics application of Ansys Fluent, Rand engineer Alex Lefebvre used CFD for airflow, aerodynamic heating and heat transfer inside the solid bird.

Ansys Fluent mosaic mesher created the surface mesh of the turkey. (Picture courtesy of Rand Simulation)
The turkey is simplified to have no head but also no neck or thoracic cavity, a forgivable idealization for a fanciful flight. Ansys’ mosaic mesher starts with a coarse mesh that adapts to a finer mesh as required. A boundary layer on the turkey’s exterior is shown but the transition between boundary layer and course mesh is a bit fuzzy. But we nitpick. Remember, this is all in fun.

The SST (shear stress transport) k–ω turbulence model used has a blending function to provide accurate results in boundary layers as well as in space far from the boundary layer.

The turkey appears to be solid and homogenous – all “meat,” a custom material.

Rand pitched the headless, featherless turkey forward into the wind at a speed of 525 m/s (1174 mph) at sea level during a crisp Fall day, ambient temperature 50 °F. A temperature of 300 °F develops at the front of the bird, which may crisp the breast skin but would leave the legs undercooked, worries Lefebvre. But flying too fast could char the bird, he warns. A flight of long enough duration and the heat would transfer to the rest of the bird. The time of flight to achieve a safe internal temperature is yet to be determined. It is not mentioned whether the turkey is frozen pre-flight.

Yes, we understand only an engineer would think of this.