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Airflow over an airfoil Flight is one of the most important achievements of mankind We owe this achievement to the invention of the airfoil and understanding the physics that allow it to lift enormous weights into the sky All flight is the result of forces acting upon the wings of an airplane that allow it to counteract gravity Contrary to popular belief the Bernoulli principle is not responsible for most of the lift generated by an airplanes wings Rather the lift is created by air being deflected off the wings and transferring an upward force to those wings The most important factor in determining the lift generated by an airplane is the angle of attack The angle of attack is the degree measure from the horizontal that a wing is elevated or declined When the angle of attack is between 1 and 20 degrees the most lift is generated To find the lift generated by a particular area of wing in a standard airfoil shape a teardrop with the fat end facing forward the equation LCl 12 pV2S Cl is the lift coeficent which is determined by the shape of the airfoil and the angle of attack P stands for the air mass density V for the velocity of the air passing over the wing and S for the area of the wing when viewed from above or below As the air flows over the wing producing lift it grabs onto the wings surface and causes drag Drag can be measured by the equation DCd 12 pV2S much like the lift equation The drag coeficent Cd is found again by determining the shape of the airfoil and then finding the angle of attack Drag is less than lift up to a certain angle of attack After that the air encountering the surface of the wing is either pushed off or deflected in a way to cause turbulance So what does
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