Predicting the hydrodynamic loading experienced by lightweight structures during water impact is central to the design of marine vessels and aircraft. Here, hydroelastic effects of flexible panels during water entry are studied through particle image velocimetry. Experiments are conducted on a compliant wedge entering the water surface in free fall for varying entry velocities, and the pressure field is indirectly evaluated from particle image velocimetry. Results show that the impact is responsible for prominent multimodal vibrations of the wedge, and, vice versa, that the wedge flexibility strongly influences the hydrodynamic loading. With respect to rigid wedges, the hydrodynamic loading exhibits marked spatial variations, which control the location of the minimum and maximum pressure on the wetted surface, and temporal oscillations, which modulate the direction of the hydrodynamic force. These experimental results are expected to aid in refining computational schemes for the analysis of hydroelastic phenomena and provide guidelines for structural design.
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