Flight   Sep 18, 2007   2:00/1:00 MT/PT
watch the program resources glossary facts links home

aerodynamic force

the forces present when air is moving past an object. "aero" means air, and "dynamic" denotes motion. There are four aerodynamic forces: lift, weight, drag, and thrust

aeronautics

the science of designing any machine that flies including: aerodynamics (the shape of the plane, wings, and tail), control and stability, propulsion (how to push through air)

aerospace engineering

the science of rockets and satellites. Designs of vehicles and engines are different in space because there is no air

ailerons

a control surface at the back of an airplane wing. It is used to control turns and to perform rolling maneuvers

airfoil

the part of an aircraft, such as a wing, propeller, blade or rudder, whose shape and orientation control direction, lift, thrust, and stability

altitude

the vertical measurement of the distance of objects above the Earth

camber

the curved shape of a wing that creates lift

drag

the aerodynamic force caused by the resistance of air to the motion of the flying object. It is the force that acts opposite to the direction of motion. Drag is caused by friction and differences in air pressure.

elevators

control surfaces attached to the tail to control pitch

flaps

moveable parts on the trailing edge of the wing that are used to increase lift at slower air speeds

force

a force is a push or pull that has a direction and can be measured

glider

an aircraft that does not have an engine, but rides the wind currents for lift

gliding flight

flight that occurs with little or no movement from the flying object. Leaves, seeds, some fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals can glide. Gliding flight is also used part of the time by birds, including hawks, vultures, and gulls.

gravity

the force that pulls the mass of a thing toward the Earth.

leading edge

the rounded front of an aircraft wing

lift

the aerodynamic force that pushes a flying object up against the weight of the air. Lift is made by the movement of air around wings.

model

a simpler, smaller or less expensive version of a final design

pilot

the person who controls the plane
pitch the motion that rotates an aircraft around its side-to-side axis. Yaw points the nose up or down to help it climb or fall. Elevators control pitch.

propeller

the airfoil located at the front of or on the wings of a plane. Propellers are powered by an engine and create thrust. The propeller moves the plane forward by biting into the air and forcing the air back

roll

the motion that rotates an aircraft around its front-to-back axis. Roll banks the aircraft to turn left or right.

rudder

attached to the tail's fin, it allows the pilot to control the plane's movement from side to side (yaw)

streamline

the design of an object that reduces drag.

thrust

the aerodynamic force which pushes an aircraft through the air. Thrust is generated by the engines of the airplane.

trailing edge

the sharp back edge of an aircraft wing

true flight

in our natural world true flight can be seen only in insects, birds, and bats. They are the only animals who are able to propel themselves through the air by flapping their wings.

wind tunnel

a structure used to test the design of aircraft, buildings and bridges against the four forces of moving air. Air is blown past a stationary model of an object as scientists and engineers collect data on the air flow.

weight

the aerodynamic force generated by the gravitational attraction of the earth on the airplane

wing

an airfoil attached to the fuselage of an airplane that lets the plane create lift

yaw

the motion that rotates an aircraft around a vertical axis. From above the plane will look like it is going straight, left, or right. Yaw is controlled by the rudder.
Fly back to Flight Facts
IdahoPTV home D4K Dialogue for Kids home