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# How Airplanes Fly We live in an ocean of air. This invisible gas surrounds us of which all our motion pervades.

Air rarely is motionless (stable). We see its fury (totally unstable), and can enjoy its leisure state that exists between extremes. To obtain the best of the circumstances we have no control over when we fly our model aircraft, we should analyze what we are trying to do when we fly, and embrace the forces of nature with a bit of planning to extract the best this environment has to offer. Gliders: Build them light and they will stay up! Have you seen a empty plastic bag whipped about by a breeze and lofted to height, or dandelions fluffy seed or corn shucks take to flight and travel across a field on a nice summer day? This is where the light concept originates. Sink is the vertical rate of travel a body has, Drag is the resistance of motion a body has. The Bag and Fluff are illustrations of flying things that have very little mass so the force of gravity has little effect to accelerate that mass against the resistance of high drag. The missing ingredient with this kind of flight is control i.e. they go where the wind blows; be it laterally - or vertically! All shapes moving through the gas of air will have 3 forces working on them. #1. Is the force of gravity; and it is the motor for the other forces that will occur because of velocity generated. #2. Drag, a square law resistance to the resulting acceleration, will set the velocity in free fall to a terminal value. #3. Lift, a square law value that is created at right angles to the direction of the forms travel. (Lift on a bullets flight is disaster, so the bullet is rotated at high RPM. To reduce the effect of lift, a golf ball has pockets on its surface. However, for things that want to fly, the force of lift is a benefit and thus the concentration.) The next step is the realization that all things falling through our atmosphere which have shape other than round, is capable of having some lift thus an L/D (ratio of lift to drag). Even a bomb can fly on its side area thus changing how steep the dive angle is. The Harm missile is a (unpowered) glider with its small wings yielding a total L/D of 5 (meaning that for every foot vertical, the bomb will fly 5 feet horizontal). The Space Shuttle is far from being an efficient glider inside the earths atmosphere; however, it too has enough lateral mobility to land comfortably on large airports runways. It just doesnt have the ability to go around again if it is outside its landing window. Full size aircraft, Space Shuttles, powered models, sailplanes, and Frisbees are all gliders first and foremost, with just shifts in their operating centers. So now we can start looking at our model sailplane glider as a means to slowly descend (sink) from an altitude; and for that sink rate, we are striving for the maximum in horizontal velocity, which we assign the title of Performance. Obviously the slower it sinks the longer it will remain in the air

(Duration). Somewhere between the wing loading of a bit of fluff, and a manhole cover, is the center that we have to select for us to gain advantage for our performance goals. Defining goals for our glider is the next step. If our glider is to soar (ride currents of air for altitude gain) the glider that can do this successfully (consistently) we call it a Sailplane. Low sink is one way to assist stay-up-man-ship; however, duration time becomes erratic because a light fluffy machine is unable to be controlled throughout its climb-out for the best efficiency, or where the machine will alight after the flight is over. Although weight is the means to increase airspeed; too much weight limits the circular spiral flight, and increases the sink level to the point it becomes difficult to work the nominal lift. Profile selection is important to experts that need to finesse the greatest performance out of a sink value that has to be lived with i.e. tolerated. This high performance universe is usually in harmony with heavy duty launching equipment, and utilization of the upper air where thermals, and/or slope winds with their related currents, are much stronger and larger in dimension. The typical sport flier; however, is not as critical to potential performance, and his universe that he intends to navigate is much smaller than the competition flier so his concern is more on the utilization and fine tuning a machine that is more in line with his limitations. Now lets go into this basic understanding that a glider slides down a downward glide path because it is pulled by gravity; where a velocity increase is held back by drag so airspeed is limited. The only way to increase airspeed is to make the glide angle steeper and the resulting increased airspeed will regulate again because of the increased drag. Picture a glider flying down a negative 5 degree incline from a horizontal reference. At any airspeed location on this glide path, the wing will present an angle to the stream of air to maintain an amount of lift equal to the weight of the aircraft. This positive wing profile angle (relative to the glide angle) is Alpha (representing Angle of Attack). As the glide angle becomes more steep for higher velocity, Alpha will automatically reduce so as to maintain an amount of lift equal to the aircraft weight. Please understand that lift can exceed weight for a short transient period of time only, and that is due to inertia. After an abrupt change, regulation will occur again for a new set of conditions regardless of cause i.e. change in Alpha or change in glide path (with each parameter effecting the other). To insure this glide path, we have stabilizers on the aircraft that keep things pointed to follow through the travel and maintain direction both vertically and laterally. Changing these stabilizers position relative to the wings profile will initiate the basic control of the glider. Lets continue with the basic tractor design. To better understand how the controls operate, along with stability, and airspeed regulation; we find that the center of gravity is the pivot point for the gliders mass. All controls surfaces attempt to rotate the mass about this center. The CG location relative to the total surface area is what directs the nose of a glider downward. It is a case of gravity being the center of effort; with the center of the total surface area acting as the center of resistance. As the machine builds speed, the horizontal stabilizer generates a small amount of negative lift to counteract the rotating force of the nose weight (center of gravity ahead of the center of resistance). Once the torque of the nose weight is compensated by the negative lift of the stabilizer, the glide angle becomes established. More nose weight will make it fly faster increasing the slope; but will also