Ep.1: Flying Machines

Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to fly. In fact, at four years old you could find me on top of a ladder armed with a box fan (plugged in and turned on) and an umbrella, just like Mary Poppins. Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand how some things flew while I didn’t, so I thought we’d look at some of the most amazing flying machines that are real, and also show you how to start designing your own by looking at the aerodynamic forces that you have to deal with whether you’re a kid or an airplane.

Materials:

  • sheets of paper
  • pencil

Download the student worksheet that goes with this lesson.

So for today, we’re first are going to look what makes airplanes flip over, slip and slide through the air, and then we’re going to look at some of the most famous flying machines ever created, and finally we’ll learn how to make our own.

2 Responses to “Ep.1: Flying Machines”


  1. Andrew

    Hi Aurora! Thanks for the really great lesson. I am excited that you are doing this. I had a queston too. What happens if you try to fly your plane on another planet? How does that change the center of lift?

  2. Aurora Lipper

    Great question Andrew! It really depends on which planet you are visiting, since both the gravitational field AND the atmosphere that creates the drag force will be different. On Venus for example, the atmospheric pressure is 90x what is on Earth, so the drag force is going to be a LOT greater. (In fact, one of the first missions to Venus (Venera, built by Russian scientists) fell continuously for 90 minutes and still didn’t reach the ground before it got crushed and baked by the planet.) So knowing what you do about different planets, which one would you pick to have the easiest time flying your plane?