# Angle of Attack: Why Pilots Fly Differently at High & Low Altitude

• gigglin_horse
In summary, angle of attack is the angle between an aircraft's wing and incoming air, which affects its lift and ability to fly. Pilots need to adjust their angle of attack at different altitudes due to changes in air density. The angle of attack also affects an aircraft's performance in terms of speed, stability, and fuel efficiency. If the angle of attack is too high, it can lead to a loss of lift and potential stall. Pilots can adjust the angle of attack during flight by changing control surfaces and adjusting speed and altitude.
gigglin_horse

## Homework Statement

"When a jet plane is cruising at high altitude, the flight attendants have more of a hill to climb as they walk forward along the aisle when the plane is cruising at low altitude. Why does the pilot have to fly with a great angle of attack at high altitude than at low altitude?"

## The Attempt at a Solution

Something to do with pressure?

Density

I can provide an explanation for the difference in angle of attack for pilots flying at high and low altitudes. The angle of attack refers to the angle between the wing of the plane and the oncoming air flow. At high altitudes, the air is thinner and less dense compared to low altitudes. This means that the wings of the plane experience less resistance and therefore require a higher angle of attack to generate enough lift to keep the plane in the air.

Additionally, at high altitudes, the speed of the plane is typically higher due to the thinner air. This higher speed also requires a higher angle of attack for the wings to generate enough lift to keep the plane flying. In contrast, at lower altitudes, the air is denser and the speed of the plane is lower, resulting in a lower angle of attack needed for the wings to generate lift.

Furthermore, the shape of the wing also plays a role in the difference in angle of attack. At high altitudes, the wings are designed to be more aerodynamic and have a thinner profile. This allows for a higher angle of attack without causing too much drag on the plane. On the other hand, at low altitudes, the wings are designed to be thicker and have more surface area, allowing for a lower angle of attack while still generating enough lift.

In summary, the difference in angle of attack for pilots flying at high and low altitudes is due to a combination of factors including air density, speed, and wing design. Pilots must adjust their angle of attack accordingly to maintain a safe and efficient flight at different altitudes.

## 1. What is angle of attack in aviation?

Angle of attack refers to the angle between the wing of an aircraft and the incoming air. It is an important factor in determining how much lift an aircraft can generate and therefore affects its ability to fly.

## 2. Why do pilots need to adjust their angle of attack at different altitudes?

The air density at high altitudes is lower than at low altitudes, which means the same angle of attack will produce less lift. Therefore, pilots need to increase their angle of attack at higher altitudes to maintain the necessary lift for the aircraft to stay airborne.

## 3. How does angle of attack affect an aircraft's performance?

The angle of attack is directly related to an aircraft's lift and drag. A higher angle of attack will produce more lift, but also more drag. This can affect an aircraft's speed, stability, and fuel efficiency.

## 4. What happens if the angle of attack is too high?

If the angle of attack is too high, the airflow over the wing may become turbulent, causing a loss of lift and potentially leading to a stall. This is why pilots are trained to maintain a safe angle of attack to prevent accidents.

## 5. How do pilots adjust the angle of attack during flight?

Pilots can adjust the angle of attack by changing the position of the aircraft's control surfaces, such as the elevators and flaps. They can also adjust the aircraft's speed and altitude to achieve the desired angle of attack.

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