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Friday, March 29, 2013

Flying, Science and Magic, Working Together.

Next week we are going to climb into an airplane and travel. We have a destination, but, it is not that simple. We need to fly to another city, change planes and then we can go where we want.  Still, stopping somewhere while flying is not so bad, as long as they planned to stop, unplanned stops while flying is one of the worst ideas of all time. Really it is not the waiting, or the “intermediate destinations” that are so troubling, it is flying. To reassure myself I looked into the science behind flying.

Flying seems like a huge leap of faith, Maybe understanding the dynamics and forces involved will help. This is what I found.

When an airfoil (or a wing) is moving relative to the air it generates an aerodynamic force, in a rearward direction at an angle with the direction of relative motion. This aerodynamic force is commonly resolved into two components:

  • Drag: is the force component parallel to the direction of relative motion,
  • Lift: is the force component perpendicular to the direction of relative motion.
That seems a little fuzzy, maybe there is a clearer description somewhere else. Here is something that might make a little more sense.

Apparently, it has something to do with magic. But, I finally understand what the old timers meant when they used to say “if God wanted man to fly he would have given him an improved drag coefficient, and increased lift capabilities.”  Sometimes old sayings are still the best.

Anyway, if we make it safely to our “final destination” I will let you know, right away, after the tears of joy subside.  If not, say nice things about me, even if you have to lie.