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Lift or Drag? The Physics of Flight Quiz
by Staff
Long before the Wright brothers guided their fixed-wing aircraft over the North Carolina dunes, daredevils and engineers worked to decode the secrets of sustained heavier-than-air human flight. What do you know about the physics of flight?

Which of the following is NOT a force acting on airplanes?

  • drag
  • lift
  • mass

What part of an airplane is responsible for creating thrust?

  • aileron
  • engine
  • rudder

Which force acts in the opposite direction of thrust?

  • drag
  • lift
  • weight

What part of an airplane is responsible for creating lift?

  • elevator
  • riser
  • wings

What's the scientific name for a wing?

  • aileron
  • airfoil
  • appendage

Which well-known scientific principle describing the pressure of moving fluids is often invoked when discussing how an airplane generates lift?

  • Archimedes' principle
  • Bernoulli's principle
  • Boyle's law

What controversial book, first published in 2001, rejects the conventional wisdom about airplane wings and lift?

  • "Falling Up"
  • "Understanding Flight"
  • "Wright and Wrong"

A different, more modern view of airplane flight relies on another famous scientific principle. Which one?

  • Darwin's theory of natural selection
  • Einstein's theory of relativity
  • Newton's third law of motion

When air flows over an airplane wing, it sticks to the surface. What’s the name of this process?

  • Coanda effect
  • Coriolis effect
  • Photoelectric effect

What term describes the degree to which an airfoil is curved?

  • camber
  • lift
  • pitch

What are the two main types of drag?

  • king and queen
  • light and heavy
  • parasitic and induced

This term sounds threatening, but it merely describes the position of the wing relative to airflow.

  • angle of attack
  • deadhead
  • killer coefficient

What's the relationship between the angle of attack and lift?

  • As the angle of attack increases, lift decreases.
  • As the angle of attack increases, lift increases.
  • There's no relationship between angle of attack and lift.

What happens when a plane reaches the critical angle of attack?

  • It flips.
  • It stalls.
  • It stops.

What part of an airplane controls pitching (tilting the nose up or down)?

  • ailerons
  • elevators
  • propellers

What part of an airplane controls rolling?

  • ailerons
  • elevators
  • fuselage

What part of an airplane controls yawing (turning the nose left or right)?

  • engine
  • prop
  • rudder

Turning an airplane smoothly requires a pilot to operate two controls simultaneously. Which ones?

  • ailerons and rudder
  • elevators and rudder
  • throttle and elevators

Supersonic flight changes aerodynamics drastically. Which two forces are affected most?

  • lift and drag
  • thrust and lift
  • weight and drag

What number can be determined by dividing the speed of an aircraft by the speed of sound in air?

  • lift coefficient
  • Mach number
  • Reynolds number