Your Own Flight
Forces of Flight - Drag

Illustration

The drag of the air makes it hard for the plane to move quickly. Another name for drag is air resistance.

What's a good shape for getting through the air? 

 

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A streamlined shape slips smoothly through the air. A wind tunnel can be used to show how the air moves. 

Who needs a lot of drag? 

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Drag can be a useful force for slowing things down. A big area gives more drag. 

Have you ever felt the force of drag? 

Illustration

You don't notice the air's drag when you walk or run. But you feel the force of drag when you try to move through water. Fish and dolphins must have a streamlined shape to reduce their drag. 

(There's more drag in water than in air, because it is denser). 

Why is the force of drag important to insects? 

  

A large insect, like a dragonfly, moves easily through the air. 

Life is much harder for small insects. Drag has a much bigger effect if you are small. For a gnat, flying might feel a bit like swimming. 

Drag is more of a problem if you are small, and if you want to move fast. 


Try a related activity... 

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