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Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics


Welcome to the Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics

Image of Jet AirplaneBeginner's Guide to Aerodynamics How do airplanes work? Why does a wing change shape on takeoff and landing?
Image of Jet EngineBeginner's Guide to Propulsion How do jet engines work? Why are there different kinds of jet engines?
Image of Model RocketBeginner's Guide to Model Rockets The Beginner's Guide to Model Rockets will show you the basic math and physics that govern the design and flight of model rockets.
Image of KiteBeginner's Guide to Kites The Beginner's Guide to Kites will show you the basic math and physics that govern the design and flight of kites.

In the 21st century, airplanes are a normal part of everyday life. We see them fly over, or read about them, or see them on television. Most of us have traveled on an airplane, or we know someone who has. Do you ever wonder how airplanes fly? What causes the lift that gets the airplane off the runway? How does a pilot control the movement of the airplane? Why are the engines on an airliner different from the engines on a fighter plane? How does aerodynamics affect the flight of a model rocket or a kite? The information at this site is provided by the NASA Glennn Learning Technologies Project (LTP) to give you a better understanding of how aircraft work.

Each page at this site describes a single topic related to basic airplane aerodynamics, propulsion, model rockets, and kites. At the top of each page is a slide that illustrates the topic. The slide is accompanied by a caption that explains what the slide is all about and goes into some detail about the physics and math related to the subject of the slide. There are often links and references to other slides and sites where you can find additional information.

For most of the web pages, activities are available for teachers to use in class. These activities were developed during teacher workshops including:

  1. Elementary and middle school teachers at two summer workshops sponsored by LTP in 1996 and 1997.
  2. Middle and secondary school teachers at four summer workshops cosponsored by the LTP and the Ohio Space Grant Consortium in 1998 and 1999.
  3. Pre-service middle and secondary school teachers from the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, in 2000.

You can access the activities by clicking on buttons at the bottom of each page. As an aid to teachers, we have organized the activities by grade level (K-6, 4-6, 6-8, 9-12, 11-12) using color-coded buttons. As a further teaching aid, you can download your own copy of any slide by using the blue "Show Slide" button located at the bottom of each page. Clicking on this button displays the slide alone, without the captions, and oriented in such a way to give you the largest, most detailed copy. The colors are intentionally ugly to give a good contrast on a black and white printer. You can use your browser's Print command to make your own copy of the slide. Each slide should fit on a single sheet of 8-1/2 x 11 paper. If you find that a slide takes two sheets, try changing the margins on printer setup in the browser menu. (A 75% reduction is suggested for MAC users.)

This site was prepared to provide background information on basic aerodynamics and propulsion for math and science teachers, students, and life-long learners. We have intentionally organized the BGA to mirror the unstructured nature of the world wide web. There are many pages here connected to one another through hyperlinks. You can then navigate through the links based on your own interest and inquiry. However, if you prefer a more structured approach, you can also take one of our Guided Tours through the site. Each tour provides a sequence of pages dealing with some aspect of aerodynamics.

Software in Schools

We would like to know if you are using the Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics, RocketModeler, FoilSim, EngineSim, Range Applet, or Baseball Applet, in your classroom. Follow the Link above and include your school name, e-mail address and which of the above you are using.

NOTICE --- The site has recently been modified to support Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Many of the pages contain mathematical equations which have been produced graphically and which are too long or complex to provide in an "ALT" tag. For these pages, we have retained the (non-compliant) graphical page and have provided a separate (compliant) text only page which contains all of the information of the original page. The two pages are connected through hyperlinks.


Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics
Beginner's Guide to Propulsion
Beginner's Guide to Model Rockets
Beginner's Guide to Kites
Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics

Button to Display Aerodynamics Index Button to Display Propulsion Index Button to Display Model Rocket Index Button to Display Kite Index

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byTom Benson
Please send suggestions/corrections to: benson@grc.nasa.gov


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