Introduction to Flight



Are you ready to learn?

Read the 'Task' tab.


You will learn about the forces involved in flying such as lift, gravity, thrust, and drag, as well as Bernoulli’s principle.

Read through the 'Process' tab once before starting properly so you can get a general understanding of what you are learning about and what you are expected to do.




People have always understood that flight was possible from observing birds, but it took thousands of years to actually achieve and there were many hurdles along the way.

Create a Powerpoint in you shared Google Drive to answer the following questions. Make sure it has a title and is easy to read. If you are unsure about how to answer a question, have a go!

  • What are some examples of things that fly?

  • Can you group them into different types of flight?

  • How about grouping them into natural and man made things?


Flying is defined as controlled movement through the air and includes sustained, controlled and powered flight.

Flight is the actual process of flying...

  • Many things can become airborne but are they actually flying and under control?
  • What role does gravity play in our efforts to fly?


Wings, airfoils and the forces of flying:

Let’s look at some of the common characteristics of things that fly. Looking at bird wings and plane shapes the main characteristic is the aerofoil shape. 

Watch this video: 

In your own words, on your Powerpoint,

- explain what airfoil is.

- identify what the four forces needed for flight are. 

- what must the weight of lift be equal to?

- what must thrust be equal to?


  • The wings of birds and planes have what is called an airfoil shape. This airfoil shape helps us overcome weight which is the effect of gravity pulling down on the mass of the aircraft.

  • The airfoil shape gives us something called lift. This is the upward force required to overcome gravity, being produced by a wing as it moves through the air. This action allows the object to lift up and push forward.

  • Something that slows us down is drag, which is the resistance to airflow and consequently slows the progress of an aircraft through the air, arising from disturbing the air as it moves through it, and from the skin friction due to the viscosity or ‘stickiness of the air. The drag force is opposite to the flight path.

  • Thrust is the forward force required to move an aircraft through the air, overcoming drag (and providing sufficient speed for a wing to develop enough lift to fly). This must be provided by an engine, by gravity (glider, sailplane) or by muscles (birds).


Control of an aircraft is on three axes: Yaw, pitch and roll. Moving parts of the wing, tailplane and fin surfaces change the the camber of these parts and affect their lift (and their drag) and provide forces to change the aircraft’s path.

  • Rudder controls Yawing (left/right)
  • Elevators control pitching (nose up/down)
  • Ailerons control rolling

Include a labelled diagram on your slides that identify where each of the three axes are located.


Bernoulli's principle:

Bernoulli’s principle helps explain that an aircraft can achieve lift because of the shape of its wings. They are shaped so that that air flows faster over the top of the wing and slower underneath. Fast moving air equals low air pressure while slow moving air equals high air pressure. The high air pressure underneath the wings will therefore push the aircraft up through the lower air pressure.


In your own words, explain Bernoulli's principle on your Powerpoint. You may like to include a labelled diagram.



  • Your challenge is to hold a rectangular piece of paper close to your mouth, blow across the top of it and get the paper to move down. Sounds simple enough but give it a go and see if you change your mind.

  • Next, try and make a piece of paper into a simple bridge and get the bridge to rise up by blowing under it.

  • Your final challenge is to hold 2 paper strips near your mouth, blow between them and get them to fly apart.

You may like to film these experiments and include them in your Powerpoint.

Explain what happens for each experiment.

Why did this happen?

Was it what you expected?

Can you use your knowledge and understanding of the forces of flight and Bernoulli's principle to explain your findings?


Write a short self-evaluation paragraph on your learning. Include this at the end of your Powerpoint.


Check that you have completed everything you were required to do.