How does a Plane Stay in the Air – Exploring the Four Forces that Keep Objects Airborne!

How does a Plane Stay in the Air – Exploring the Four Forces that Keep Objects Airborne!

How does plane stay in the air

The airplane was made by Wright Brothers in 1903, yet there is too much knowledge about its flying behavior that still remains a mystery. There are four forces acting on an object to keep it into the air; these are weight, lift thrust and drag. The essential thing for planes is balancing these forces so as to be in equilibrium. As will be shown in this article, there are various ways through which different airplanes utilize these forces for them to remain airborne.

Which are the four forces that act on an object and prevent it from falling?

The first force is weight. All objects have what we call weight because of gravity. The heavier something is, the more gravitational force it has. This force pulls things down until they make contact with the ground.

The second force is lifted. The shape of the wings of an airplane results to air pressure on top of them. Pressure generates a force which enables the plane to rise into the air.

Thrust forms another major force among the four mentioned above. For example, thrust is established when you have engines pushing against some air so as to push up the plane into space.

Drag also referred to as resistance creates another type of force known as drag. Drag comes about when sections of an aircraft like wheels move through air space- eventually reducing speed that lands planes back on earth again.

How does a plane balance these four forces to stay up?

drag forces

The brothers designed their airplane so that it could take advantage while flying in skies due to its shape called cambered wing .The airflow goes faster over the top than underneath thus producing more lift for flight and keeping it within skywards trend.

Besides using lift and thrust an aircraft also applies drag as support mechanism for sustaining itself While it’s moving upwards above water level or land surface . In case any airplane tries rising off skyward then a lot of power must be used by thrusting engines in such circumstances where lifting allows aircraft takeoff. On the other hand, planes use drag to keep themselves stable when thrusting is done in reverse.

Both forces are used together to maintain an airplane’s flight. Planes depend upon the combination of these four forces and a cambered wing so as to stay in the sky.

What is drag and why does it make a plane go down?

Drag happens when the air around an object pushes against it. This makes it difficult for planes to move in air space. It explains why airplanes tend to reduce their feeling of resistance like curving wings or using spoliers on them.

However, there are three other forces necessary for keeping airplanes up into sky. The aircraft is carried by its wings that produce lift. The engines of the plane create thrust by pushing against the ground and through air. Lift is produced from wings pushing against air. To keep an airplane flying all four of these forces must be maintained in balance with one another

The plane may crash if any of these four forces is too strong. Take for instance if the thrust is too powerful, it can make an airplane shoot up in the sky too quickly and fly too high as well. A spoiler can help slow down the aircraft when this occurs. Conversely, a weight that’s excessive will instead cause a quick fall downwards. That is why many people say that airplanes fly like birds.

Why do airplanes use thrust to push airstreams over their wings?

Thrust pushes the air over the wing. The velocity of the air above the wing is faster than that below it. This difference in speeds leads to low pressure over the wing and high pressure beneath it, as their values increase accordingly. An airplane lifts off due to this disparity in pressures.

An airplane also raises its altitude by providing lot of lift whenever it wants by pushing dense air down at great speed over its wings. This creates a regions of low and high pressure on top of plane which then lifts it up.

Once again, an airplane remains airborne because of four basic forces: weight, lift, thrust and drag. Airplanes are designed so these four forces are in equilibrium.

Why do planes need weight to keep them from going into space?

weight force

Weight is what brings a falling object back down to earth. Objects with more mass will fall more quickly than lighter ones will. Planes are lighter than air and there is more air than planes above them; hence they need very little weight to stop from going into space.

Why do planes use a lift to stay up in the sky?

What’s a word for lift? Lift as we know happens when air moves across an airplane’s wings creating an upward force known as lift after forcing the air downwards.

This force helps airplanes stay aloft using aerodynamic features such as wing shape, size and angle among others for lifting purposes.

These other forces include weight and thrust that keep them up in the sky too. Weight comes about when gravity pulls on something or someone whereas thrust is one of those forces that keep an aircraft flying. Thrust is generated when an airplane’s propellers or jet engines push it through the air.


Conclusively, balance enables planes to remain suspended in mid-air. These are weight, lift, thrust and drag acting upon aircrafts They therefore require these factors balanced off while staying in the air. It does this by using its wings to balance weight and thrust and create lift. This lift counters the weight of the plane and prevents it from going down as thrust is provided.

Another consideration is that airplanes have a way of keeping all four forces balanced. A change in thrust, for instance, occurs when a plane varies its engine speeds. A modification in an airplane’s attitude while flying has implications on gravity acting upon it. That’s how it modifies its mass distribution as well as weight.

Hope you found this piece helpful. So what do you think about these 4 forces that equally assist an airplane to float in sky? Would they change one day? Share your opinion below 🙂


6 thoughts on “How does a Plane Stay in the Air – Exploring the Four Forces that Keep Objects Airborne!

  1. This is an interesting topic. And it took many years for the pioneering aircraft designers to come up with models that would actually stay in the air. A deep knowledge of physics paid the way. And countless trial and error experiences delivered what we commonly use today in flights. The Wright Brothers contribution is valuable.

  2. This may sound dumb but I had always wondered how a plane was able to stay in the air. It just baffled me as to how something so big was able to stay in the air. This article has given me some sort of perspective so thank you for this. I will be sure to share this article with everyone I know 

  3. Aircraft engineering is one of the most fascinating for me, only nuclear energy is more fascinating. When you consider home much electronics are there, oil, and fluids, different types of materials, and it must do high pressures and high speeds, it is just phenomenal. I only miss the opportunity to see or fly with Concorde.

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