Sunday, October 11, 2009

Q. How does a plane takeoff and fly?


Check left and right fuselage, remove gust lock, secure antennae, check left and right wing tires/breaks, landing light on, breaks set, traffic check, full open throttle, ROLL AND LIFTOFF!

"You look like a nervous wreck," these were the first words my piloting teacher spoke to me. There I am face to face with a handsome pilot who will guide me through my first lesson and all I can do is quiver at the possibilities I am faced with. I sit down and we go through a question and answer period, then its out to the Vintage 1967 Cessna Skylane, red and white, 2-man cockpit and guess who's in the driver's seat? ME!?!?!?!

I guess if flying were as easy for pilots as it is for birds then more people would do it; permitted their eyesight is in tip-top condition. Besides the drive that lures dreamers to the craft of flying the mechanical concepts behind it are just as important to know. Birds are flying their own bodies and rely on flying as a means of survival. For them it isn't second nature, its just plain nature. To become the intuitive mind behind the machine, a pilot can learn how to develop the skills to fly faster, stronger and further than any cookoo-bird in the skies.
Strap on your bomber cap people, your in for a lesson in the physics of flight.

In 1665 Sir Isaac Newton proposed his three famous laws of motion. These four forces explain the reason why these laws were created.

Lift is upward and perpendicular to the wind
Drag is down and backward, parallel to the wind
Weight is downward and works with mass and gravity
Thrust is forward and produced by the engine

So, add these four together, start the engine and imagine the rest. You see, all you really need to fly is air. It is essential to flight. Air pressure is created by moving molecules which gives air its weight which also gives it the power to push and pull. So, it is not that these forces are created by an object. Instead it is the effect of an object in motion within a state of gravity.

Airplane wings are an extremely important part in understanding how a body of these dimensions gets the proper aerodynamic form to propel it off the ground. The wings are curved at the top which helps air move faster on top and slower underneath. The slow air pushes up from the bottom while the fast air pushes down as it flows over the curve, toward the ground. This literally FORCES the wing off the ground. With the correct weight ratios a plane has the ability to fly using these dynamics.

Over the years we have developed precise and technical blueprints and models for air flight. But there is obviously something to say for vintage dreams. The Wright brothers are my idols, my fascination in piloting is an easy one. It's one I don't have to build because curious and intelligent people before me have prepared the world with great inventions. Although a pilot does not need to directly be aware of key forces during a flight it is still a up to the masterminds to understand these concepts. If there weren't smart physicist on the job, we wouldn't have the ability to fly in the first place!