Back to Amazing Airplanes
A lot of people wonder how does a plane fly. Well hereís how. First of all air. We live at the bottom of a sea of air called the atmosphere. The earth is surrounded by a layer of air hundreds of miles high.
Like everything that has mass, air is pulled toward the earth by the force of gravity. Since air has mass, weight, and pressure, the lighter the air, the lower the pressure, the higher the plane flies.
Something that also helps a plane fly is lift, drag, thrust, and gravity. Gravity is the force that pulls things (that have mass) down to the earth. Lift is an upward force that causes an object to rise (in an aircraft it may be downward facing propellers). Drag is the force encountered as an airplane pushes through the air, which tends to slow it down. Thrust is when the engine reacts by going in a forward motion. The pilot is responsible to keep all four balanced.
The wings are the Ďarmsí of the plane. They hold the plane aloft by creating lift from the air rushing over them. The wings should be strong and flexible, so that they can bend to absorb sudden gusts of wind, instead of cracking or snapping. The useful space inside the wing is taken up by control wires and cables, fuel tanks, landing gear, anti-icing and other equipment. One thing that a plane needs is landing gear. Seaplanes have hull-shaped fuselages and floats for landing on water. A regular plane has jumbo-sized tires. The tires for a jumbo jet are almost the size of a adult! They are made out of rubber-coated nylon, fixed to wire rings called beads. In the cockpit are the main instruments: the variometer, the altimeter, the airspeed indicator, the rudder pedals, and the joystick.
Whatís Inside Airplanes? By Steve Parker pages 16, 17, 22, 30, 31, 38, and 44
Ready For Take-Off By Robin Lawrie pages 8 and 9