Chapter3 Chapter 3 - Introduction to the Basics of Flight
   The basic principles discussed in this chapter explain and establish the fact that an airplane is a stable, controllable flying machine, and why it can and will fly. To many people, flying machines seem complex and mysterious. Indeed, the technical details are complex. But behind the technology are basic principles that can be easily understood by anyone.

   A complete and detailed discussion of the technology and aerodynamic principles is beyond the scope of this chapter. For those persons seeking the more advanced pilot ratings, particularly flight instructors and those who have a need or desire to learn more about aerodynamics, the last chapter in this handbook is devoted to the more technical aspects of airplane design and characteristics, and the physical forces and conditions that affect flight.   

The long span of years between man's initial dream of flying and the final accomplishment was broken intermittently by the feats of the aeronauts, or balloonists. In the latter 18th century the Montgolfier Brothers of France first ascended into the air, and the observation balloon was quickly adapted to battle in the Franco-Austrian wars. The United States, also, first used the observation balloon to great advantage during the war between the states.

   But it was not the same as free flight - man remained discontent as a captive dangling beneath the silk of a balloon. The pioneer pilots, Montgomery, Lilienthal, and Chanute made short flights in gliders, but they were brief and frustrating, for these men were unable to sustain flight and were forced back to earth against their will.

   It was up to the Americans, Orville and Wilbur Wright to approach it scientifically, and to succeed. They built a wind tunnel, experimented with models, and learned much about wing curves, lifting forces, air resistance, and efficient wing design. Because of this careful research and intelligent study, the gulls circling the sand dunes at Kittyhawk in the winter of 1903 saw a man and a machine rise and conquer the sky for an historic 12 seconds.

   The Wright brothers studied their model planes in the wind tunnel, learning the laws of physics which aided or prevented flight, and then learned how they could use the helpful forces and overcome the inhibiting forces. In similar manner, the discussions in this chapter provide the learning pilot of today with the basic facts of flight before actually beginning to fly.

   Throughout the history of aviation, science and technology have produced many different types of aircraft. However, only the facts of flight that relate to the typical light plane used in general aviation will be discussed here.