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Forces involved in making a car airborne

  1. Jan 7, 2004 #1
    Forces involved in making a car "airborne"

    This should be a fairly straightforward question.

    A car with a mass of 7420 pounds is going up a hill of slope between 5 and 45 degrees. Assuming a maximum speed of 90 miles per hour, is it possible, and, if so, what speed and angle are necessary for the car to overcome the forces of gravity and become "airborne", even for a moment.

    Since it is possible for there to be multiple answers, either a list of angles and speeds, or an equation for the derivation thereof would be helpful.

    Thank you for your time.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 7, 2004 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    This is a more complicated (or simpler?) problem than you may realize. Since a projectile flies in a parabola shaped trajectory, all thats required is for the hill to be curved inside the trajectory of the car. You can pick the angle and speed, plug it into the trajectory equation and graph it on a calculator. I don't remember the equation offhand - I'm sure someone will derive it for you.

    The easiest way to get a car airborne though is for the ground to drop out from under it - so any sudden change in the angle of the street (or elevation change) will do it. Like on a ramp - drive over the edge and you're airborne.
  4. Jan 8, 2004 #3

    Here is some good info on this sort of problem

    http://www.gamedev.net/reference/articles/phor/phors15.pdf [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
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