What I Didn’t Know About How Planes Fly

January 30, 2010

I’m flying to LA and Germany next month and normally break out into sweaty anxiety just when imagining airplanes. I’m cool up to 25,000 feet but somewhere between 28k and 31k I decide the I am likely to be sucked out into space like little Jackie tells Robin Williams’ character in Hook or flip over and fall to the ground.

But I know it’s safe and I really want to take the trips so I am preparing mentally and physically. This time I don’t want to be carrying-on my own single serve liquor bottles in plastic baggies (yes the TSA folks let you do that and get a kick out of it).

I’ve decided to learn about physics. Please note I dropped out of H.S. physics when I just couldn’t wrap my head around scientific notation (I still don’t get it).

Today I discovered this Webpage that sets me at ease when imagining the plane tipping.“The top of the wing is rounded and the bottom of the wing is more straight. Air takes longer to travel over the top of the wing than the bottom, which results in more pressure on the bottom, hence the lift. Right? The main reason planes fly is far simpler: wings force air downward, which in turn force the wing (and therefore the plane) upward.”



  1. YAY! Paige is flying to LA! Ill flying back that way on Tuesday. Holler at me

  2. P,
    The top of the wing actually “sucks” the upper surface upward because of the differential distribution of molecular density caused by the disparate flows. So… you might could get sucked into outer space, except the air gets real rare and thin after you go so high… and the “suck” just kinda poops out and leaves you just “hanging” in the upper atmosphere.


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