There is perhaps not a better symbol for human ingenuity and technological advancement than the jet airplane. Since the early 19th century, beginning with Otto Lilienthal, to the Wright Brothers’ first airplane, humans have continuously strived to understand and improve upon the concepts of flight. Today, we have mastered the concepts of flight, as exemplified by the jet airplane, which is now the standard for modern air travel. To truly appreciate just how far we’ve come, it is important for one to understand how a modern jet airplane works.
All airplanes rely on three separate systems—Wings, Propulsion and Control Systems. (lect 1/31) For flight to take place all three of these systems must be functioning properly at the same time, but more importantly, they must work in tandem to accomplish two things. First, the airplane must generate an amount of thrust that is equal to or greater than the amount of drag. (lect 1/31) Thrust is the aerodynamic force that moves an airplane forward through space. An airplane’s thrust is generated by its propulsion system—the more powerful the engine, the greater the thrust generated. Drag is the friction that resists the airplane’s motion as it is moving forward through space—most commonly this is in the form of air resistance. The airplane will slow down if the amount of drag ever becomes larger than the amount of thrust being generated. Therefore it is very important for an airplane to have a powerful propulsion system. The second thing that must to be accomplished in order for flight to occur is that the amount of lift must be greater than the airplane’s weight. (lect 1/31) An airplane’s weight is a product of both mass and gravity. The larger the plane is in size, the greater the force in which the plane is drawn towards the Earth. Lift is the opposing force to weight that gives an airplane the ability of sustained flight through the air. Lift is accomplished through the use of the airplane’s wing. The aerodynamic shape...
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