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MacRoscopic Properties: The World We See

Phases of Matter and Intensive Properties

How do planes stay in the air?

Airplanes are very heavy, so the force required to balance gravity and keep them in the air must be large. The engines propel the airplane forward, but we need to understand what gives the upward push, or lift, necessary to keep the plane in the air. This lift comes from the shape of the wings, which are typically curved on the top and flat on the bottom. This design requires air to flow more rapidly over the top of the wings than over the bottom, which creates a lower air pressure above the wing than below. The lower air pressure above the wing is what lifts the plane off the ground and keeps it in the air. This is commonly referred to as the Bernoulli principle. If you blow across the top of a sheet of paper, you will see it lift into the air for the same reason.

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