What is Flight: Definition and 363 Discussions

Flight or flying is the process by which an object moves through a space without contacting any planetary surface, either within an atmosphere (i.e. air flight or aviation) or through the vacuum of outer space (i.e. spaceflight). This can be achieved by generating aerodynamic lift associated with gliding or propulsive thrust, aerostatically using buoyancy, or by ballistic movement.
Many things can fly, from animal aviators such as birds, bats and insects, to natural gliders/parachuters such as patagial animals, anemochorous seeds and ballistospores, to human inventions like aircraft (airplanes, helicopters, airships, balloons, etc.) and rockets which may propel spacecraft and spaceplanes.
The engineering aspects of flight are the purview of aerospace engineering which is subdivided into aeronautics, the study of vehicles that travel through the atmosphere, and astronautics, the study of vehicles that travel through space, and ballistics, the study of the flight of projectiles.

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  1. iMakeMehThings

    B Need help finding the G1, G2, etc... drag coefficient functions

    I cannot seem to find them, and I am confused as to what they are. I am trying to simulate a bullet in flight and need to calculate air resistance. I'd like to be accurate to real life and use a lookup table but I can't seem to find a graph of the drag coefficients that has an accompanying...
  2. berkeman

    Boeing Keep your seatbelt low and tight in flight, especially when seated next to a plugged door

    Yikes... https://mentourpilot.com/incident-alaska-air-737-max-9-loses-plugged-door-in-flight/
  3. PhysPaig

    Admissions Can I cancel a physics PhD visit day, after they've booked my flight?

    Hello everyone! I have a visit day for a school coming up that they booked my hotel and flight for. I was initially interested in the program, but my partner recently received a dream job offer in Boston. I have been offered a spot at two PhD programs there, so I'll likely pick one of those in...
  4. DaveC426913

    Plotting My Air Flight Path from Photos

    I expected this to be challenging but it's turning out to be much harder than I expected. I just flew back from Cuba to Toronto, got in at 315AM. It was a beautiful, clear and I had the window seat, so I took a bunch of pics. Now I'm plotting the flight path by analyzing the photos. It's super...
  5. BillTre

    How Do Insects Fly Despite Aerodynamic Challenges?

    I am putting this in General Discussion because it could go into either biology or aerodynamics. Remember how bumble bees were not supposed to be able to fly aerodynamically? This explains why that is wrong. Here is a podcast I just found (came out in 2019). The two podcast guys interview...
  6. Astronuc

    J58 jet engine and supersonic flight

    We've had several threads on the SR-71 (and related craft) and the J58 propulsion system. https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/sr-71-blackbird-supersonic-aircraft.68694/ https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/j-58-engine-inlet-spike.413262/...
  7. Leo Liu

    Why doesn't aircraft weight affect descent angle in a gliding flight

    It's a homework question, but I feel like it fits better in this forum. The solution fails to convince me because C_D and C_L can be both written in terms of weight: $$C_L=\frac{2W}{\rho v^2 S}$$ $$C_D=C_{D0}+k_1 C_L(W)+K_2 C_L(W)^2$$ Question: Solution: Any insight will be appreciated.
  8. A

    Needing some help about time of flight of a launched ball/horiz range

    The parts in bold are the questions and also highlights of my attempts at the solutions for each number and letter portion of the question. I attached a word doc to show the diagram and it also has the same questions ;) 4) A launcher is setup at the edge of a table as shown below: (I attached...
  9. M

    I Time of flight measurement uncertainty

    Hello! I am generating electrons from a 3D gaussian source. The electrons all have the same energy, but the direction is isotropic. The electron source is in between 2 plates that act as a capacitor, and one of them acts as a time of flight (tof) detector. I know the voltage on the plates very...
  10. Field physics

    I Aviation Enthusiast's Tale of Ruining a Flight Sim

    So my amazing wife ( a bio-chemist and gamer) was playing a flight sim. So, I love aerodynamics, aerospace engineering, and am a serious aviation enthusiast. I see that she is flying a Boeing 747 Freighter ( a heavy large 4 engine cargo plane) and she does a vertical takeoff. So mission was to...
  11. trryan5

    Find Projectile Flight Time Given Only Maximum Height

    I've been trying some online projectile problems. Specifically, I was using this one on master difficulty, looking at row e. It uses a random number generator; I shared the data I received in the Homework Statement above. According to the help section, you can solve this with the formula...
  12. Xamaa

    Calculate the total energy required to fly a drone on this flight plan

    How much energy will drone batteries will consume if I have the following inputs, By using provided GPS flight path data I've calculated total horizontal distance using Haversine formula, and multiplying this distance with provided horizantal speed I've total horizontal flying time. By...
  13. R

    Aerodynamics Monographs: Recent Advances in High Mach Subsonic Flight

    Summary:: I'm looking for recommendations of recent aerodynamics monographs which treat high Mach number subsonic (pre-transsonic) flight thoroughly. I'm looking for recommendations of recent aerodynamics monographs which treat high Mach number subsonic (pre-transsonic) flight thoroughly. I...
  14. crism7

    Calculating Time of Flight & Velocity of a Ball Thrown Upwards

    Vertical components: dy = 0m ay = 9.8m/s^2 [down] t = 1.34s V1y = required V2y = 0 i first tried to find V1y dy =vi t + 1/2 a t^2 and got V1y = -6.566 then i solved for time of flight dy =vi t + 1/2 a t^2 0 = -6.566t + 4/9t^2 and for 1.34 seconds does this mean the time of flight is the...
  15. dom_quixote

    I Atomic Clock Exp on Ballistic Flight: Proving Clocks are Accelerometers

    In the past, scientists have experimented with atomic clocks aboard airplanes in order to prove the Special Theory of Relativity. In our humble opinion, ALL watches are accelerometers. Effect observed in a chaotic pendulum in free fall: Too bad they didn't do the same experiment with an...
  16. ColeridgianHam

    Calculating Total Flight Time for a Rocket: A Scientific Approach

    I calculated the time for the velocity before ground impact, which is v = -189.23 and the velocity at end of engine burn time, which is 120.996. I also calculated the max altitude (y = 1826.94), and the time to reach the max altitude was t = 23.0823 seconds. So from this information, I did: t =...
  17. mfb

    SpaceX SpaceX prepares for fourth Starship flight

    Watch the progress live This is a fully stacked Starship (top) and Super Heavy (bottom). A couple of too-small-to-see cars near the bottom for scale, I also added a Saturn V and the Statue of Liberty for comparison. 120 meters tall, about 5000 tonnes when fully fueled. Twice the mass and over...
  18. berkeman

    MQ-25 T1 Mid-Air Refueling Drone -- First Flight

    This is really cool, IMO. They now can use drones launched off of aircraft carriers to do mid-air refueling of aircraft. The video shows a land-based launch and recovery of the drone, although it looks like the landing was arrested by a regular aircraft carrier cable...
  19. flyparnape

    Finding the Velocity of a Projectile knowing only Launch Angle and Flight Time

    I don't know the distance or the horizontal velocity so I can't find any logical solution
  20. neilparker62

    Iconic first in flight (Ingenuity helicopter on Mars)

    Cleared for take-off on Runway 4 !
  21. mfb

    #dearMoon: Flight around the Moon accepts applications

    dearMoon website Japanese billionaire to fly eight members of the public on SpaceX moon flight The number of spaceflight seats open to the general public (not only multimillionaires and career astronauts) just increased from 2 to 10. And it's not just orbiting Earth - it's going to the Moon...
  22. Astronuc

    Catastrophic engine failure on Flight UA328

    https://www.flightglobal.com/safety/united-777-suffers-engine-failure-over-denver/142519.article https://www.flightglobal.com/safety/united-777s-failed-pw4000-appears-uncontained-forward-cowling-missing/142520.article...
  23. H

    Question about the Kinetic Energy of a baseball in flight

    A baseball is thrown and lands 120 m away. While the ball is in flight, assuming the effect of air friction is negligible, which of the following is true? a. At maximum height the ball has its greatest kinetic energy. b. The horizontal component of the baseball’s kinetic energy is constant. c...
  24. brotherbobby

    Vertical flight with air resistance

    I suppose the trick in this question is to realize that the drag acts in opposite directions when the ball ascends and descends and that the ball actually takes less time to rise and more time to fall than normally. I make a small sketch of the problem alongside. Attempt : The total time of...
  25. S

    I Paper: To catch and reverse a quantum jump in flight

    This video www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5HyMNNSGqQ and the paper it refers to https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1287-z (available also at : http://qulab.eng.yale.edu/documents/papers/zlatko_paper.pdf ) ... talks about how a quantum transition can be monitored and manipulated in real time...
  26. chr2021

    F-104 Starfighter Flight Envelope (contains envelope page image)

    Hello to all forum members, Here is a page from the F-104 flight manual. It shows the flight envelope for the F-104 Starfighter with the powerful -19 turbojet engine: I have a question regarding the shape of the afterburner envelope. In Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators, published in 1965...
  27. Janus

    Got the new Microsoft Flight Sim for Christmas

    It was a gift from my daughter and her boyfriend. I had the older Flight Simulator X, and the timing of the release of this new version coincided with my getting a new computer. I'll have to say that I am impressed. Even though I'm not running the graphics at the full realism setting, I was...
  28. S

    Time of flight of a projectile

    These questions normally have initial velocity = 0, so that one of the t terms cancels. In this case u = 20ms^-1 so I end up with a quadratic. Which is fine if I plug it into the quadratic formula as one result is -ve so can be ignored, while the other gives t as +ve. just wondering if this is...
  29. Lnewqban

    Study about high frequency mosquito flight

    Please see article here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5412966/?report=classic
  30. P

    How does the velocity of a ball change without buoyant force acting on it?

    So my doubt is at the beginning of the problems hey are saying that the ball obeys stokes law and on the latter part of the question they are saying that no buoyant force is acting then how does the velocity of the ball change in the end? Also what is the use of specifying 'the ball never...
  31. mfb

    SpaceX Starship tests: SN15 flight early May

    SpaceX doesn't have a public test plan, but they need to close a public road to fire the engines, and road closures need to be announced in advance - including their reason. In the next days SpaceX plans a static fire (engine fires but the spacecraft is fixed to the ground), and Monday next...
  32. A

    Understanding Zero-G Flight Physics: How Men Navigate Curved Paths in Airplanes

    Men in airplane goes in curve path during ZeroG..So how men do not touch neither walls of airplane if plane fly in curve path? Where is now centripetal force force which drive men in curved path?
  33. X

    Y-component of the force vector in turning flight

    Hello, I have a question: Why is the y-component of the force at turning flight equal to the weight force? Here, Fs is equal to Fg. But why? I tried to explain it myself but I didn't get it
  34. J

    Some Flight Calculations and the Motion of the Earth

    A Problem is posed for a flight from Melbourne to Cairns. Using the formula for rotational speed at latitude - 1) The latitude of Melbourne is approx 38 degrees south with a rotation velocity of 820 miles/hr 2) The latitude of Cairns is approx 17 degrees south with a rotation velocity of 994...
  35. E

    Can Humans Achieve Flight Through Theory Crafting?

    Hi, smart people This quarantine has got me thinking: Can we get people in the air? I have 3 questions that may or may not help answer this question. But I do appreciate any insight. 1. How would one accelerate (the average human) 100 feet in the air and sustain their position? Under normal...
  36. K

    Engineering a Desk-Mounted Flight Stick for Flight Simulation

    Hi, First off, full disclosure as mentioned in the title, I am not an engineer, but I'm working on an engineering project without the required base knowledge. I'm a professional pilot that also likes to fly flight simulators for fun (mostly military planes, because I'm not allowed to fly...
  37. Knowledge Seeker

    Senses Necessary for Insect Flight

    Which senses (hearing, seeing and so on) would be necessary to accomplish what flying insects do?
  38. DavidOB18

    Flight of a plane without lift on its wings

    I don't know where to start with this as I can't visualise a diagram for it. Any help would be appreciated.
  39. P

    Describe the physics of a golf ball flight off the club face

    How did you find PF?: social media The flight of a golf ball off the club face at the moment of strike would seem to be determined, among other variables such as elasticity, by the mass of the ball, the club's force vector, and the orientation of the club face relative to that force vector...
  40. X

    Was KSP a somewhat accurate space flight simulator?

    KSP was one of the most famous science games as it simulates a complete space program, as well as physics such as aerodynamics and orbital mechanics. Such science focused games are rare, and something favourable amongst nerds. To make it even better, it is easy to modify the game and add almost...
  41. deZordine

    Airplane flight and the rotation of the Earth

    If a plane departs from the North Pole (where the Earth's rotation speed around its axis is 0 Km / h) on the median line to Romania, around the 45th parallel (where the Earth's rotation speed around its axis is 1178, 80 km / h) would the plane reach its destination only by flying to *South* (...
  42. Boyi

    What factors affect a golf ball's drag and lift besides spin and speed?

    Summary: What could affect Magnus force's magnitude and direction except for speed and spin? Most golf flight simulators model the coefficient for drag (Cd) and lift (Cl) as a function of the relative spin ratio (rsr), where rsr = spin * radius / speed. In Figure 1, parameters of two similar...
  43. Benjamin_harsh

    Is my formulae correct for time of flight in this projectile problem?

    ##V_{oy} = V_{0}.sinθ = (20 m/sec)(sin 30) = 10 m/sec## ##V_{ox} = V_{0}.cosθ = (20 m/sec)(cos 30) = 17.3 m/sec## ##y = y_{0} + V_{oy}t - \large\frac {1}{2}\normalsize gt^{2}## ##0 = 50 + 10t - 4.9t^{2}## ##0 = 4.9t/6{2} - 10t - 50## ##t = \large\frac {-b±\sqrt {b^{2} - 4ac}}{2a}## ##t =...
  44. mfb

    SpaceX Starship (/Super Heavy) testing: Mk1 stacked, 20 km flight this year

    Previously discussed in the "Space Stuff" thread but this is a long-term project. What is Starship? SpaceX is working on a fully reusable two-stage rocket to replace the partially reusable Falcon 9/Falcon Heavy. It is the largest rocket that made it beyond the concept phase so far; the payload...
  45. T

    Mechanics question (vector descriptions of two birds' flight paths)

    Part (a) was fine. For part (b), I started off with finding the position vector of bird A and bird B after 4 seconds, and this was: Position vector of A after 4 seconds: -4i + 11j Position vector of B after 4 seconds: (-8 + 4p)i + (9+8p)j But after this I'm lost. Usually I'd have some idea...
  46. dRic2

    Neutron's crow flight distance & 2° moment of a distribution

    Hi, I'm looking for a simple explanation of the meaning of the crow flight distance and why it is defined as the second moment of a probability distribution: $$\bar r^2 = \int r^2 p(r)dr$$ Where ##p(r)## is the probability that a neutron is absorbed in the interval ##dr## near ##r##. And what...
  47. S

    Sound Wave Problem -- time of flight in air versus in water

    Homework Statement Homework Equations v = d/t Solve for t. t = d/v The Attempt at a Solution In my General Physics 2 course we are doing sound waves I have the answer to the problem which is 90.8m I am trying to understand the concepts of sound wave. So please correct me if I am wrong, 1...
  48. A

    Flight Path Angle and Velocity During Atmospheric Re-entry

    A space vehicle enters the sensible atmosphere of the Earth (300,000 ft) with a velocity of 25,000 ft/sec at a flight-path angle of -60 degrees. What is its velocity and flight-path angle at an altitude of 100 nautical miles during descent? (Assuming no drag or perturbations, two body orbital...
  49. D

    B Does the Path of an Interstellar Object Curve Due to Solar System Movements?

    When an object is propelled from a solar system, does that object sometimes travel in a curve depending on the direction it travels away from the solar system, relative to the direction the solar system is traveling and to some fixed point in space. And if it enters a second solar system, that...