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Four Forces of Flight. Lift Weight Thrust Drag. Source: NASA Glen Research Center. Forces on an Airplane. Lift. Lift is an aerodynamic force Lift must exceed weight for flight Generated by motion of aircraft through air Created by the effects of airflow past wing

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Four forces of flight
Four Forces of Flight

  • Lift

  • Weight

  • Thrust

  • Drag

Source: NASA Glen Research Center



Lift

  • Lift is an aerodynamic force

  • Lift must exceed weight for flight

  • Generated by motion of aircraft through air

  • Created by the effects of airflow past wing

  • Aircraft lift acts through a single point called the center of pressure.


Weight
Weight

  • Weight is not constant

    • varies with passengers, cargo, fuel load

    • decreases as fuel is consumed or payload off-loaded

  • Direction is constant toward earth’s center

  • May be assumed concentrated at the center of gravity


Thrust
Thrust

  • Forward-acting force opposes drag

  • Direction of thrust depends on design

  • Propulsion systems produce thrust

  • Equal to drag in straight, constant speed flight


Drag

  • An aerodynamic force

  • Resists forward motion

  • Two broad drag classifications

    • Parasite drag: drag created by airplane design

    • Induced drag: by-product of lift generation

  • Acts through the center of pressure






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