*** 20th Anniversary: 2003 to 2023 ***
A short flight for short people
We flew a plane over the whole school and almost crashed it, but we got 1st place and we got into a photo in the school.
Barry's response - Wow! Must have been exciting. How big was the plane? How fast? How high? Were spectators and adjudicators excited by the near-miss, or the lesson in physics involved?
What, overall, was the premise of the experiment? Are you still involved in aviation? I have never flown a plane of any sort - real or model. Heck I can't seem to get a kite off the ground for more than a few seconds.
I hope all went well and there was no trouble with the law or anything afterwards, pulling such an unusual stunt. And I hope it was fun.
The textbook science behind flight is Bernoulli's Principle - air gains velocity as it flows through an area with reduced pressure. It also exerts less pressure (sideways) as it moves faster.
So how do you make it speed up? Make it travel a greater distance without extra time. If you place an obstruction (say, an airplane wing) into a moving stream, the air reaching the downwind edge will get there in the same amount of time, no matter which side (upper or lower) of the wing it goes on.
Conservation of mass, streamlining and deformation cause this to happen. So, now what if the top side of the wing has a longer distance for its air to travel? This can be accomplished by altering the shape and/or incident angle of the wing.
The air going around top travels further in the same time (i.e., faster) as the slower air on the bottom. It exerts less sideways (in this case, downwards) pressure on the wing as a result and the air travelling across the bottom pushes upwards with a greater force.
This pressure offset contributes to the lift the plane experiences at a sufficient speed. That, combined with other physical forces generate enough upward force to lift the plane off the ground and high into the atmosphere.
That's part of what drives the plane upward. There's more. See what I mean here:
this site for more physics information now.
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