Science Fair Project Ideas – How do planes stay up anyway?

 This is a question I ask myself every time I buckle up my belt and watch the flight attendants give their safety talk! The scientist in me understands the answer, but the nervous flyer in me still wants to know how 57,000lbs of steel and plastic stays in the sky.

It´s really easy. An airplane wing is like a ship´s sail – only the wing is lying down instead of standing straight up. Aerodynamics is a popular and reliable field when you are looking for Science Fair project ideas.

There are two ways this works:
but the top is curved. As the propellors move the plane forward, air moves over the wing. The air that pushes over the TOP of the wing moves more quickly than the air moving underneath. Air behaves a bit like liquid and the faster it moves, the thinner it gets. This means you get thinner air on the top of the wing and thicker air underneath. This creates a suction effect that pulls the wing upwards – and the rest of the airplane goes with it. The plane gets sucked into the sky! You can try this with a model wing in a tub of water (experimenting with this can give you some great Science Fair project ideas.)

– Just like moving liquid, rapidly moving air (ok, ok, let´s call it something easy. How about WIND!) likes to move in a curve shape rather than straight down. A wing is curved and the air that ´falls´off it doesn´t fall straight down. It falls in an arc. We know that YOU stay on the ground because your body pushes down with force and the ground pushes back with an equal force. When air is pushed off a wing, the air underneath pushes back with an equal force. When you add this to the Suction Effect, you get a plane that flies!

Now that you know all that, here´s a question for you: When a plane flies upside down, why isn´t it sucked towards the ground?

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