Physics in Aircrafts
All you need to know about the role physics plays in the flight of an aircraft.
Many people are amazed with the flight of an object, especially one the size of an airplane, but they do not realize how much physics plays a role in this amazing incident. There are many different ways in which physics aids the flight of an aircraft. In the following few paragraphs some of the many ways will be described so that you, the reader, will realize physics at work in the world of flight.
Principles of Flight
First of all you will have to understand the principles of flight. An airplane flies because air moving over and under its surfaces, particularly its wings, travels at different velocities, producing a difference in air pressure, low above the wing and high below it. The low pressure exerts a pulling influence, and the high pressure a pushing influence. The lifting force, usually called lift, depends on the shape, area, and tilt of the wing, and on the speed of the aircraft. The shape of the wing causes the air streaming above and below the wing to travel at different velocities. The greater distance over which the air must travel above the curved upper surface forces that air to move faster to keep pace with the air moving along the flat lower surface. According to Bernoulli’s principle, it is this difference in air velocity that produces the difference in air pressure.
Bernoulli’s principle is the concept that as the speed of a moving fluid (liquid or gas) increases, the pressure within that fluid decreases. This principle was originally formulated in 1738 by the Swiss mathematician and physicist Daniel Bernoulli, it states that the total energy in a steadily flowing fluid system is a constant along the flow path. An increase in the fluid’s speed must therefore be matched by a decrease in its pressure. This principle also covers the flow over surfaces, such as airplane wings. Airplane wings are designed to direct air to flow more rapidly over its upper surface than over its lower surface. As a result, the air above the wing travels at an increased speed, producing a region of reduced pressure. The pressure below the wing, which is therefore greater, exerts an upward force, or lift, on the wing.
Lift is the third factor in which physics aids the flight of an aircraft. Lift is influenced by a variety of different things, such as area, tilt of the wing, and on the speed of the aircraft. Wing area influences lift; the more of the wing that is exposed to the air, the greater the lift. The up or down tilt of the wing, usually called its angle of attack, contributes to or detracts from...