Airborne Experiment

If you happen to travel to the busiest airport in Canada, Toronto Pearson International Airport, you would just be one in about 31 million that visited it that year. But ever wonder how airplanes fly?

What’s it all about?

A large part of the reason a plane can stay in the air is due to its wings. The shape of the wing allows Bernoulli’s principle to take place. Bernoulli’s principle states that as the speed of a moving substance increases, the pressure of that substance will decrease. In the case of the wing, it is curved which divides the airflow leaving some to go over the wing and some to flow under it. The air has to travel a greater distance over the top of the wing versus beneath it. This creates a higher pressure beneath the wing than above it and the difference in pressures causes the wing to push upwards creating a force called lift.  Lift is the force responsible for keeping the plane in the air but there are a couple of other main forces such as drag and thrust that also affect flight. Drag is causes by the resistance of the air on the plane. Drag works in opposition to the direction the plane is moving. Thrust is the force that helps overcome drag. Thrust is created by the plane's engine and must be greater than the drag force or the plane will be unable to move.

What does it mean?

Lift - is an upward force which opposes gravity allowing a plane to move upwards

Thrust - the force that pushes the plane forward
Drag - a force that acts in the opposite direction of motion as an object moves through a fluid such as air

Who uses it?

  • Aircraft Engineer
  • Aircraft Structure Technician
  • Avionics Technician
  • Aircraft Pilot

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