How do planes fly?
Have you ever seen a plane soaring through the clouds and wished that you could fly with it, but you can’t no matter how hard you try? Here’s why...
The four forces
In order for planes to fly there are four forces needed.
Lift: Lift is a force that keeps the plane in the air and works against weight.
Weight: Weight is a force that pulls the plane down and works against lift. Another word for weight is gravity.
Drag: Drag is created by air resistance and slows the plane down. Drag works against thrust.
Thrust: Thrust moves the plane forward. Thrust works against drag.
How Planes Fly
For a plane to take off lift and thrust overcome weight and drag to lift the plane into the air. While the plane is in the air, if it’s going in the same direction all forces are even. If you steer the plane in a different direction an unbalanced force needs to push it. This links to Isaac Newton’s first law of motion the law of Inertia - an object will stay at the same speed, travel in the same direction unless an unbalanced force moves it. When the plane is landing weight and drag overcome lift and thrust.
So remember, when you see a plane flying in the air and wonder why you can't fly with it, it’s because you don't have the lift, drag, and thrust.