As I taxi to the terminal, the blackness of the night is interrupted by a sparkling new Boeing 747 – 800 illuminated by a myriad of towering floodlights. As I stare at this majestic aircraft I am bewildered by the notion that this 975,000 lb monstrosity [powered by 4x 66,500 pounds of thrust] defies the forces of gravity and effortlessly soars through the skies.
Introduced to Sir Isaac Newton some 43 years ago, I know his laws and the physics of lift versus gravity and thrust versus drag. I’m also familiar with Daniel Bernoulli’s theorem and fluid dynamics to explain how this giant takes to the skies.
Simply stated; if the combined forces of lift are greater than the weight and thrust is greater than drag then an aircraft takes to the skies.
Bernoulli theorem of fluid dynamics states that an increase in the speed of the fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure or a decrease in the fluid’s potential energy.
Ergo, the curvature of a wing causes the air to flow faster over the upper surface than the lower surface causing a decrease of pressure and lift.
Yes, I know the theory of flight, yet as I gaze at this imagistic 747 I still believe it’s magic.