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An Introduction to Airplanes

by Tiffany

The Wright brothers invented the airplane after learning from the mistakes of people in the past. They created the fundamentals of the kind of plane we use today. Let's see what makes up today's common airplane!

Components of the Modern Airplane
Airplanes come in lots of different shapes and sizes - from big jets to fighter planes, their shape depends on the plane's mission. All these planes have certain components in common, though:

the engine, fuselage, wing, tail assembly and control surfaces, landing gear

For an airplane to fly, you need to be able to lift the everything on the airplane into the air. The wings help generate most of the lift to hold the plane in the air. But to initiate and sustain this left, the airplane must be pushed. This is where the engines come in. The engine is located beneath the wings and provides the thrust you need to push the airplane forward in the air.


The design above shows you the basic parts of an airplane. The fuselage is like the skeleton or body of the airplane that holds all pieces together. Engineers try to make the fuselage as streamline as possible, to reduce drag. The fuselage also includes the cockpit where the pilot and flight crew sit. Some planes carry the fuel in the fuselage, and others carry it in the wings. Engines may also be included in the fuselage.


The powerplant consists of the engine as well as any other related components needed for thrust, such as propellers. The enginers are usually found in pods beneath the wings or (especially in fighter planes) in the fuselage.



The Wings and Tail Assembly

The wings offer the primary lifting force of an airplane, when it interacts with the air. We call the shape of the wing when viewed from above as the planform shape of the wing. The cross-sectional shape of the wing, from a side-view, is referred to as the airfoil section. The placement of the wing on the body (fuselage) and its angle of incidence depends on your airplane's mission and what will work best for it.


The tail assembly usually has two fixed parts. One is horizontal, called the horizontal stabilizer. It prevents the up-and-down motion of the plane's nose (called the pitch). The other part is vertical and is called the vertical stabilizer. It keeps the nose of the plane from swinging side to side (this phenomenon is called yaw). Both parts help to provide stability to the plane.


When the horizontal stabilizer is placed in front of the wings, this arrangement is called a canard, after the French word for "duck" because of the way the plane would look.


Landing Gear

The landing gear is also known as the undercarriage. It supports the airplane on the ground, and is used for - you guessed it - takeoff and landing! The landing gear can be fixed or retractable.

Part of the gear includes the wheels. These wheels are attached to struts that absorb shock - they use oil or air in order to soften the blow of landing. You definitely would be having a bumpy ride if it wasn't for these guys! Other special kinds of landing gear include skis for moving in ground that's covered in snow, as well as floats for landing in water.


Want to know how a plane manages to land safely in such a short distance? It's the arresting hook, also known as a tailhook. Part of the landing gear, it's attached to the read of the airplane to achieve rapid deceleration after landing.


A look at types of landing gear arrangements on planes

Control Surfaces

Control surfaces are any moving surfaces of the airplane used for helping the altitude, lift and drag control. This includes the tail, structures at the rear of the plane that help maneuver and control the plane, and structures forming the wing.




As you can see, there are whoooole bunch of parts that can be considered part of the plane's control surfaces. Let's take a look at some new parts we haven't discussed yet:

  • AILERONS - controls roll. This is how the pilot turns the airplane and tilts the wings in the desired direction. Located on the outer edge of each wing, they move in opposite directions, up and down. One wing increases lift while the other decreases it.

  • ELEVATOR - controls pitch. It is located on the horizontal stabilizer and tilts up or down, thereby tilting the nose of the airplane up or down.

  • RUDDER - controls yaw. Located on the vertical tail fin, it swivels from side to side to push the tail in a left or right direction. The rudder is used with the ailerons to turn the airplane in a specific direction.



Finally, I leave you with a cool video of a Boeing 747 jet taking off:





Image Credits: NASA
References: NASM, Centennial Off Light

Image Credit : elsie

3 Comments
    bigboi
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    bigboiWed, 10 Apr 2013 08:21:18 -0000

    thanks for leting me know what i don't know before, i really appreciate.

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    mena
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    menaTue, 01 Nov 2011 10:21:31 -0000

    it,s an good station of gaining knowledge..really nice.i like's thz..

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    blueberry5
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    blueberry5Fri, 14 May 2010 19:56:32 -0000

    hhhhmmmmm wondering what caused that fireā€¦. it could be the jet engine but who knows may be the plane engineers may know

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