How does the engine of an airplane work

From the street to the air: How does flying work?

You have probably already wondered how airplanes can stay in the air when they are so incredibly big and heavy. Whether gigantic passenger planes with which you fly on vacation, or super-fast jet jets: How does flying actually work? Genius tells you why planes don't fall from the sky.

The history of aviation goes back a long way. Even in ancient times, people were concerned with the theory of flight. The first steps into the air, however, were only made by the Montgolfier brothers with their invention of the hot air balloon in the 18th century. But it took a good 100 years until the aircraft.

Tinkerers often tried to construct an airplane using bird-like models - until in the end the Wright brothers laid the foundation for modern aviation with the first motor-powered airplane. They made the first flight with such a flying machine in 1903.

What keeps an airplane in the air?

But how can airplanes weighing tons stay in the air? The answer to this is what is known as buoyancy or buoyancy. Put simply, it works like this: The buoyancy is created by high speeds and the molecules in the air. The air molecules can be imagined when flying like the water in shipping. Even if we cannot see air, there are an almost infinite number of particles in it that ensure that airplanes take to the skies.

At high speeds, a lot of air flows past the wings. When viewed in cross-section, they are slightly curved upwards to allow buoyancy. And it works like this: Since these particles always want to be arranged evenly in the air, the air flows more slowly over the wing than under the wing. This creates a so-called negative pressure. This ensures that the aircraft is pulled upwards.

You can also experience this phenomenon yourself if, for example, you put your hand out the window while driving a car. At high speed and depending on the position of your hand, you can clearly feel it pushing your hand up or down.

Well-rehearsed team: the wings and the engine

Together they both ensure that the aircraft actually flies. The engine does not ensure that an aircraft stays in the air, but rather ensures high speeds. Only then can the wings generate enough lift for the plane to take off and stay in the air. The engine must therefore have a lot of power to keep the aircraft in the air on the one hand and to accelerate it to a very high speed in the shortest possible time when taking off.

Buoyancy instead of engine: this is how glider pilots work

But how is it that glider pilots get by without a motor? Gliders get their energy to fly from the lift in the air. Warm air expands and therefore rises. This rising air, also known as thermals, is used by glider pilots to ascend. The plane progresses or builds up speed through an inclined path. It flies “downhill”, so to speak. However, since the aircraft is continuously carried upwards by the warm air, it can stay in the air for a long time or fly “downhill” all the time.

Post photo: Adobe Stock // Jag_cz

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