Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Paragliding physics

We've been learning about the physics of flight (lift, thrust, drag... those things). So far we've looked at balloons and planes. Today, a paraglider friend gave us a demonstration on the beach.

The 30-foot wing fits in a backpack and looks like a massive plastic shopping bag:

The holes in the front fill up with air, inflating the wing:

When the wing has acquired its shape, it starts to generate lift...

And we're up and running!

Talking about how air pressure creates lift has been an opportunity to introduce Newton's laws of motion (particularly law 3, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). Here's a short presentation about these forces in the context of paragliding.

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