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Phyiscs of a Paper Airplane

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jrwalther

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Paper airplanes are something almost everyone has made but most people don't really think about ways to make it better and why some are better than others.  The main factor in creating a successful paper airplane is making sure it is as aerodynamic as possible.  Limiting the amount of factors to create resistance will result in a more successful trip.  This includes making a tail that air will glide right over instead of getting trapped on.  The two forces acting against the plane in flight are drag and gravity.  Drag has to do with the aerodynamics of the plane as eliminating the factors to trap wind will help it and the way to fight gravity hurting your plane is to make it as light as possible.  The two forces helping the plane in flight are thrust and lift.  Thrust is the forward movement of the plane.  The initial thrust comes from the thrower and after that, it really just becomes a glider.  Lift is the air below the plane pushing up harder than the air is pushing down from above.  That is why the wings of planes are curved so that air moves more quickly over the top of the wing creating a upward push.

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