Forces in Flight. Mrs.DeForge. Four Forces of Flight. There are, basically, four forces of flight: lift, drag, thrust and weight. The figure below shows how these four forces are related for straight and level flight. . Weight.
There are, basically, four forces of flight: lift, drag, thrust and weight. The figure below shows how these four forces are related for straight and level flight.
The force that pushes an object up against the weight is lift. On an airplane or a bird, the lift is created by the movement of the air around the wings.
Air moves over the top and bottom of the wing at different speeds to create lift. There are two ways to do this.
Thrust is created by airplane engines (or birds flapping wings). The engines can turn a propeller at high speed or can be a jet engine that pushes hot gases out the back. If the thrust is powerful enough it will overcome weight and drag and the plane will fly.
1. Friction drag - As an airplane goes through the air, the air must go around the plane. The air is "rubbing" against the metal skin of the aircraft. This tends to slow the aircraft.
2. Form drag - The shape of the airplane can make more or less drag. If the plane is "streamlined" the air will pass around it with less drag. Think of a truck or a bus. The flat front is not streamlined. This creates more drag, and more fuel is used. Put your hand out the window of a car, palm forward, this is an example of the form of a bus or truck. Feel the drag!
3. Induced drag - When lift is created around a wing, drag is also created.
4. Wave drag - When an airplane is flying near or faster than the speed of sound the air flow around the aircraft changes and becomes an additional drag.