Your Own Flight
Forces of Flight - Thrust

Illustration

An aircraft can use propellers to make it go forwards. It speeds up along the runway. When it is going fast enough, it takes off.

How does a propeller make the aircraft move forward? 

Illustration 

The engine turns the propeller.

The propeller is specially shaped to push the air backwards. This results in a reaction force on the propeller that moves the aircraft forwards.

(Swimmers move forwards through the water in a similar way, by pushing water backwards).

Illustration

The force moving the aircraft forwards is called the thrust.

How does a helicopter move forwards? 

 
The helicopter's blades are like a propeller. They tilt forwards so that the blades push the air backwards.

A jet aircraft can go faster than a propeller aircraft. Where does its thrust come from? 

Illustration 

Illustration

A jet engine burns fuel, like a piston engine. Hot exhaust gases are forced backwards at great speed.

Pushing gases backwards makes the plane go forwards.


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