Videos: Forces on an Airplane

Another, slightly more technical, look at Cayley’s Four Forces of Flight!

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Cayley’s Four Forces

Rocket Men: Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky

Wiki TsiolkovskyKonstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky was born in Russia in 1857. The fifth of eighteen children, Tsiolkovsky first imagined a place without gravity when he was 8. It was a small hydrogen-filled ballon that rose to the ceiling each time he let it go that excited his imagination. Tsiolkovsky’s mother taught him to read and write. Before he entered his teens, his life took a turn that would forever alter his path.

As Tsiolkovsky wrote later, ” Age of 10 or 11, the beginning of winter, I rode a toboggan. Caught a cold. Fell ill, was delirious. They though I’d die but I got better, but became very deaf and deafness wouldn’t go. It tormented me very much.” The reality of a profound hearing loss a the time and in the area that Tsiolkovsky lived meant that his opportunities for education were extremely limited. He needed to depend upon himself to set goals and seek knowledge on his own.   Continue reading

Ueli Gegenschatz: Extreme Wingsuit Flying

Ueli Gegenschatz takes everything we know about aerodynamics and puts it all into a series of brilliant extreme sports experiences in the pursuit of his dream of human flight. You can view this video and think about lift, drag, thrust, and weight, but chances are you’ll be too busy wishing you were there with him!

Says Gegenschatz: “I believe this is probably the closest possibility to come to the dream of being able to fly.”

Smeaton’s Coefficient

John Smeaton (1724-1792) had a long and illustrious career as a civil an mechanical engineer. One byproduct of his work is something known as “Smeaton’s Coefficient.” This coefficient was derived from his work – not calculated by Smeaton himself. Unfortunately, the coefficient became of vital importance to the Lillienfeld,  the Wright Brothers, and other pioneers of aviation around the globe.

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John Smeaton

SmeatonJohn Smeaton (1725-1792) is the British engineer who published the 1759 paper, “An Experimental Enquiry Concerning the Natural Powers of Water and Wind to Turn Mills and Other Machines Depending on Circular Motion.” The theories Smeaton postulated to explain the relationship between pressure and velocity for objects moving in the air, applied to windmills. Smeaton won the Copley Medal for his work in 1759. Continue reading

Bernoulli Effect in Action


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Bernoulli Effect

Daniel Bernoulli’s (1700-1782) work is integral to the field of aerodynamics. It explains the way that air moves over a curved surface. As the air moves up and over the curved surface of an airplane wing, it must flow more quickly than the air moving in a straight path across the underside of the wing. The faster flow atop the wing results in less pressure over the top of the wing. This reduction in pressure on the top of the wing is offset by increased pressure upward from beneath the wing. The net result is what is known as lift. It is this lift that enables an airplane to fly, whales to stay afloat, and birds to take to the air.

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Daniel Bernoulli

UnknownDaniel Bernoulli (1700-1782) was a member of a well-respected family of Swiss scientists and mathematicians. His book, “Hydrodynamica,” published in 1793, coined the term “hydrodynamics.” Bernoulli’s fluid flow equations contributed to the success of the modern practice of testing scale models early in the design process. Continue reading

Four Forces of Flight in Action


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