Even if you don’t know anything else about airplanes, you know the wings are a pretty important part of the whole system. It’s the one idea we took from birds, after all. Not counting the absence of feathers, the most significant change human engineers made over the original design was that plane wings tend to not move. Or do they?
In fact, a plane’s wings might not flap, but they can certainly bend. In fact, they bend quite a lot for something we’re used to thinking of as completely solid and stiff. If you’ve ever been seated on a plane with a good view of the wings, you might’ve noticed they tend to bounce up a bit during turbulence. What causes this to happen, and how far can a plane’s wings bend before they break?
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What if the plane’s wings were rigid 1:10
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#planes #aviation #brightside
– The good news is no, the wings aren’t about to come unscrewed and fly off on their own. In fact, it’s precisely because they can bend that an airplane’s wings don’t break.
– Imagine the wings as shock absorbers in a car. When you drive over a bump, the shocks absorb most of the impact, giving you a much smoother ride.
– If the plane’s wings were rigid, even the slightest turbulence would reverberate throughout the entire aircraft.
– There are Japanese pagodas that have survived centuries in one of the most tectonically active places on Earth, all because the timbers were able to flex instead of breaking.
– The first and most significant thing is the material. You might have heard that most planes are made from aluminum, and unless you’re taking to the skies in an early 20th century era biplane, that’ll be true of pretty much any aircraft you climb into.
– Aircraft-grade aluminum is an alloy of aluminum and zinc, sometimes accompanied by other metals such as copper, magnesium, and lead.
– Adding to the strength of the wing is a structure known as the spar, a metal bar running the length of the aircraft’s wings.
– Some fighter jets, such as the American F-15 Eagle, feature titanium spars, and many newer aircraft incorporated specially designed composite materials.
– According to experts, the only way a plane’s wings could break off, was if the airline that owned it was guilty of a truly horrendous degree of negligence.
– As with a plane’s wings, helicopter rotors are not one hundred percent rigid. They’re actually even more flexible and will visibly hang down when the vehicle is on the ground.
– The flexibility in the rotors serves the same purpose as in a plane’s wings: reducing the effect of vibrations and making the aircraft easier to control.
– The next time you jump on a plane for a quick hop across the pond, don’t panic when you see the wings doing a little shimmy. It might not look like it, but they’re functioning exactly as intended.
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