The Physics of Flying Airplanes

Application Paper: Outline


The Physics of Flying Airplanes

  1. Introduction Paragraph:

The trials and tribulations of flight have had their ups and downs over the course of history.  From the many who failed to the few that conquered; the thought of flight has always astonished us all.  The Wright brothers were the first to sustain flight and therefore are credited with the invention of the airplane.  John Allen who wrote Aerodynamics: The Science of Air in Motion says, “The Wright Brothers were the supreme example of their time of men gifted with practical skill, theoretical knowledge and insight” (Allen, 1982).  As we all know, the airplane has had thousands of designs since then, but for the most part the physics of flight has remained the same.  Flight uses four forces: lift, weight, thrust, and drag.  In a nutshell, an airplane must create enough lift to support its own weight.  Secondly, the airplane must produce thrust to propel itself.  Finally, the aircraft must overcome the drag or the force of resistance on the airplane that is moving through the air.  All four of these forces are vital and necessary for an aircraft to move, takeoff, fly, and land.

  1. Lift
  2. Airplane Surface
  3. Upward Force
  4. Airfoil

III. Weight

  1. Weights effect on force
  2. Weights effect on lift
  3. Weight limits


  1. Thrust and Drag
  2. Importance of Thrust
  3. Physics of Airplane Speed
  4. Importance of Drag
  5. Concluding Paragraph:

Airplanes are really complex and could be studied and talked about for a lifetime.  All of these forces work together to make flying possible.  A change in any one of these forces leads to a change in the others because they all balance together.  A pilot can use many different controls and means of propulsion to change and manipulate the balance of these forces.  By doing this, the pilot is able to change their speed and change their direction.  The physics of flight are truly unbelievable occurrences that create amazing effects.  Without the concept of flight we would live in a totally different world.


Allen, John.  (1982). Aerodynamics: The Science of Air in Motion.  London: Granada Publishing Limited.



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