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Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics
Altitude and Flight Forces

If so instructed by your teacher, print out a worksheet page for these problems.


At the Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics, access the Forces on an Airplane page to read about the forces operating on an airplane. And access the Atmospheric Model page to learn how flow variables change through the atmosphere. The points covered will be used in the next step of the activity.

Launch FoilSim Notice that on the lower right side of the screen the program provides information about the local pressure, temperature, and density which change with change in altitude.

Image of FoilSim Interface
  1. Compare and contrast the following forces on an airplane: weight, lift, thrust, and drag.
  2. Alter the altitude of the given airfoil. Enter values in the worksheet table. As the altitude changes, what happens to the density, pressure, temperature, and lift quantities?
  3. Compare the information obtained about the forces on an airplane with the table information. What is the implication of the changes in altitude on the forces affecting the flight of an airplane? Think this through carefully.

    On the lower right side of the FoilSim screen is the Plotter View Panel. Use this panel in FoilSim for the following questions.

  4. As the altitude changes, what happens to the graphs seen in the Plotter View Panel window?
  5. What are the implications or importance of the yellow and white line graphs seen in the Plotter View Panel window? Think carefully.

Related Pages:
Lesson Index
Aerodynamics Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, May 13 02:38:38 PM EDT 2021

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