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Flight   Sep 18, 2007   2:00/1:00 MT/PT
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A Man with Wings     Humans have dreamed about flying for thousands of years. They probably watched birds, insects, bats, or leaves and imagined and wondered what it must be like.
        However, it took many years for humans to grow and understand some properties of the earth and air and be able to measure accurately, develop theories, and predict outcomes. Only then could people build the wings and engines needed to fly.

Girl, Kite and DogAround 350 BC the Chinese began to make kites. A kite is a form of a glider.

Find out more about KITES.

In 1670 Giovanni Borelli attempted to use artificial wings for flying and proved that human muscles aren't strong enough Man with Wingsto hold the big wings needed to lift humans off the ground.

Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of a wingIn 1492 an Italian scientist, artist, and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci, observed the flight of birds and analyzed their anatomy. He designed parachutes, helicopters and flying machines that looked quite like the early attempts at flying in the 1900's.
Hot Air Balloon
In 1783 two men inflated a balloon with hot air. It then rose into the sky.

However, it was Wilbur and Orville Wright who, in 1903, made the first flight "...in the history of the world in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of Orville Wright speed and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started."

You can read more from the writings of Orville at First Flight from the Franklin Institu

The Wright Brothers' Plane   

Fly the Wright Brothers' flyer with
First Flight simulation

Gliding Flight is accomplished with little or no movement or flapping of wings. Leaves, maple seeds, or dandelion seeds seem to float with the wind but they aren't true flyers.
         Man has built gliders which have no
engines but are towed into the air
by an airplane.
It can take hours for a glider to return to earth.     
                         Maple Leaf                     Glider

True Flight is accomplished only by birds, insects, and bats. These are the only animals able to move themselves through the air for a long period of time by flapping their wings. Some birds also glide for awhile but still need to flap their wings to stay in the air.

Did you know that some fish fly? They use their fins and tails to move through the air.
Flying squirrels have flaps of skin that connect their front and back legs.
There are even flying frogs, lizards, snakes.
Bats are flying mammals.
Flying Fish               Flying Squuirrel        Bats
The science that was developed to build flying machines is called aeronautics. 
is the science of flight.
There are 4 aerodynamic forces which are present when air is moving past an object.  WEIGHT, LIFT, DRAG, and THRUST must be understood before anyone can design an aircraft.

Weight is caused by the pull of Earth's gravity on our body. A flying object must overcome this force.

 Diagram of the 4 forces

Lift is the upward force that works against gravity and weight.
Airflow over a Wing
How is lift created?
(click the wing to find out)

Thrust is the forward push made when an engine turns a propeller. The propeller is shaped to push the air backwards. This results in a reaction force(thrust) on the propeller that moves the aircraft forwards.

Drag, or air resistance, slows down the forward movement of an aircraft

Finally, here are some important words to know if you ever want to fly an aircraft.
Pitch , Yaw, and Roll

This study wouldn't be complete without a visit
to the links for more information about flight!
So take off now!

  These LINKS are "uplifting"   "Glide" to the GLOSSARY    "Roll" to Resources
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