The flow of air over Airfoils, or how planes fly

In this article we’ll investigate what makes airplanes fly by looking at the forces generated by the flow of air around the aircraft’s wings. More specifically, we’ll focus on the cross section of those wings to reveal the shape of an airfoil – you can see it presented in yellow below:

a wing with air flow and pressure showing as well as a selected angle of attack

We’ll find out how the shape and the orientation of the airfoil helps airplanes remain airborne. We’ll also learn about the behavior and properties of air and other flowing matter.

Source: Airfoil – Bartosz Ciechanowski

The article goes very deeply into how air flow works and is modelled, how velocity and pressure affect vectors, the shape of an airfoil, the boundry layer and the angle of attack. It requires a bit of scrolling before you get to the planes, but it’s mesmerising to play with the sliders.

Robin Edgar

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