What makes Airplanes Fly: The Science of Flying

Ever since the Wright Brothers invented the aeroplane in the year 1903, people all around the world are curious to know how it is made possible. Even though there are a lot of scientific theories behind this, it is the New York Times article with the title ‘STAYING ALOFT; What Does Keep Them Up There?’ that came to our mind first.  With this blog post, we are trying to explain what makes airplanes fly and the science of flying.


Being a robotics course provider for kids, Guruface Academy is also offering courses related to drones and flying object science. In that light, we are trying to give you a simple and easy-to-understand theory about this mysterious technology – What makes airplanes fly?     

Nature & the Flight – Principles of Flight

Every human in the world is fascinated by flight. Everyone has a deep desire in their heart to fly above the horizon and reach the unreachable and see the unknown. This deep desire and curiosity about flight have led to the amazing discovery of aircraft. 

Nature has always been a great inspiration for Evolution. A very ambitious few observed nature closely and studied how these adept fliers avoid obstacles, even at super-high speeds, like the flying kite, birds, butterflies, and dragons which led to revolution and evolution.  Cheers to that curiosity, scientists found different ways of flying, that too thousands of feet above the ground.

Forces of Flight

We need to understand the forces of flight to understand how an object can fly. Every particle in the universe is subject to force. Each particle tries to reach its stable position, by balancing out various other forces acting on it. 

There are 4 such forces, they are as follows: Lift, Drag, Weight, and Thrust for flight.

What makes airplanes fly - Guruface blog
Principles of flight - Guruface blog

An airplane’s trajectory is determined by these forces. Lift and weight are opposing forces that oppose each other. Likewise, thrust and drag oppose each other. All are equally important, and they must be balanced to maintain ATO-level flight.


Forces of flight - Weight - Guruface

The weight of a body acts downwards. This is due to the gravitation force of the earth.


Forces of flight - Lift - Guruface

To make an object/body fly off from the ground we need an upward force that needs to dominate and overcome the downward force. One can experience this while jumping. 


Forces fo flight - Thrust - Guruface

Thrust is the force that moves the flying machine in the direction of motion. Engines produce thrust with the help of a propeller. 


Forces of flight - Drag - Guruface

Drag is the force that acts opposite to the direction of motion. Drag tends to slow down the flying machine. It is caused by friction and difference in air pressure.

Hope you got a core idea about what makes airplanes fly by now. We have similar blog posts on topics like PIR Sensor, IR Sensor, Servo Motor, etc. Check them out if you are interested in those topics as well.

What makes airplanes fly

When an airplane flies, the wing provides Lift to overcome the airplane’s Weight. The engine provides enough Thrust to overcome Drag and move the airplane forward.  The thrust of a rocket engine overcomes the Weight to move the rocket forward.

If you are confused about this, imagine you are jumping a little high above the ground level. When you jump, your body should be lifted against the gravitational force so that you move up. The lift should be more than the weight (gravitational force). You will get the thrust to move upward with your legs.

Jumping example - Principles of flying

When you push your feet onto the ground, Earth provides an equal and opposite reaction, forcing the body upward. Like how your leg provides thrust to overcome the weight and move your body upward, the Thrust of a rocket engine overcomes the Weight of an aeroplane and helps it to move forward. Like the way you learned What makes airplanes fly, you can also learn many more things from Guruface Academy.

Robotics Webinar - Guruface Academy

What next?

Drones are the most common flying objects. Not many can afford to have an aeroplane but we all can own a drone today. As a parent, you should introduce your kids to these amazing technologies in their childhood itself. What if we can help them build their drones and other interesting robotic projects? With Guruface Academy, we are presenting online courses like Drones – Beginners, Drones – Advanced and more. This helps to introduce them to the science of flying in an interactive method. Book a quick demo right away to discuss what kind of robotics training you prefer for your kids!

Let’s have some fun fly time with the little ones.

Marini is the Senior Robotics Trainer at Guruface Academy. She holds a Master's Degree (MS) in Electronics and is an experienced Instructor with a demonstrated history of Training students across the Globe in Various Robotics platforms. Marini is also a Professional Stem Educator with sound knowledge of Electronics, Coding, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, etc.