Basic Aerodynamics

Whether you are a pilot or just a passenger, if you are at all like me, you like to understand the principles to which you have decided to entrust your life. Aerodynamics is a complex topic, but some of its principles can be described in relatively simple terms and with a minimum of mathematics. This has been a fun topic to write about, because it forced me to go back and do some reading to refresh my own memory. As a military pilot, one takes a rather extensive series of courses in aerodynamics, particularly directed at the behavior of high speed, high altitude jet aircraft which experience a flight envelope much wider than the average light aircraft pilot experiences. Military training, of course, covers the spectrum from a Cessna 172 to a supersonic T-38 – a very wide range.

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Chapter 1

Lift, Drag, and the Inevitable Consequences of Gravity

Chapter 2

Airfoils and Lift - Getting High on Air

Chapter 3

High Lift Devices - Inflight Modifications to the Wing

Chapter 4

Drag - The Only Thing Holding You Back

Chapter 5

Thrust - The Thing That Makes It All Possible

Chapter 6

Working On It

Revised: 26 July 1999