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Ever wondered why big heavy airplanes can fly? Why do planes have to move so fast on a runway before they can take off? Find the answers to these questions.

Trivia Questions

  1. Who observed that when air moves, the air pressure drops?
  2. Where was the first successful airplane flight?

Find the answers to these kids science questions.

Continue reading "Flight"






How does an airplane take off?

When an aircraft moves into the wind, the wings cut the airflow in half. Some air travels above the wing, some air travels below the wing as shown in the picture on the left.

airflow over airplane wing

Plane wings are build to be curved on top and flat on the bottom. The wind, or air stream, flowing over the wing travels a different path from air traveling under the wing. This difference in the path of the wind, creates lower air pressure above the wing as shown in the picture on the right. The higher air pressure under the wing lifts the plane into the air creating lift.  When there is enough lift to overcome gravity, the plane takes off.

All the time, the plane is being slowed down by having to push through the air. This is called drag, and the engines have to overcome it.  As long as the plane continues to move forward at a fast enough speed, the plane continues to fly.

Planes use engines to move quickly down the runway to create the lift for take off.  Helicopters rotate their wings (or blades).  The rotating motion forces air past the wings creating lift.

Websites with information on flight

Beginners guide to aerodynamics.

Lots of different paper airplanes.

How a plane is controlled.

Trivia Answers

  1. Who observed that when air moves, the air pressure drops.
    Daniel Bernoulli in 1738.
  2. Where was the first successful airplane flight.
    Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by the Wright brothers in 1903

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