The paper demonstrates the feasibility of quantitative flow visualisation methods for investigation of transonic and supersonic flows. Two methods and their application for retrieving compressible flow field properties has been described: Background Oriented Schlieren (BOS) and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). Recently introduced BOS technique extends the capabilities of classical Schlieren technique by use of digital image processing and allow to measure density gradients field. In the presented paper a review of applications of BOS technique has been presented. The PIV is well established technique for whole field velocity measurements. This paper presents application of PIV for determination of the shock wave position above airfoil in transonic flow regime. The study showed that application of quantitative flow visualisation techniques allows to gain new insights on the complex phenomenon of supersonic and transonic flow over airfoils like shock-boundary layer interaction and shock induced flow separation.
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