MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and as the jets fly off, have you ever wondered how they lift off the ground?
In this episode of The Breakdown, we go in detail on how airplanes actually fly and what forces them to lift off the ground.
Airplanes fly because they can generate a force called lift which normally moves the airplane upward. Lift is generated by the forward motion of the airplane through the air. This motion is produced by the thrust of the engines.
Drag is the force produced by the resistance of the air to the forward motion of the airplane. An example of this is by swishing your hand rapidly side-to-side and you will feel that resistance on your hand.
Weight is also an important part of the plane, this is the force created by the pull of gravity toward the center of the Earth. You will feel the effect of this force if you jump up on the floor. Your weight will force you back down.
When then thrust produced by the engines is greater than the force of drag, this happens as the airplane moves forward. When the forward motion is enough to produce a force of lift that is greater than the weight, the airplane moves upward.
While any part of the airplane can produce lift, the most lift comes from the wings of the plane. In one sentence, wings make lift by changing the direction and pressure of the air that crashes into them as the engines shoot them through the sky.