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What Is Aerodynamics?

What Is Aerodynamics?

What is aerodynamics?

Definition 1 – Aerodynamics is the way air moves around things.

Definition 2 – Aerodynamics is the study of gases interacting with moving bodies.

Definition 3 – The study of the properties of the moving air and the interaction between air and bodies coming in the way.

All the above definitions are more or less same. When it comes to gases, we generally deal with air only as the environment of earth contains air only.

The word aerodynamics itself describes if we look at it by doing it in two parts,

Aero – stands for air or gases and dynamics – stands for studies of the motion of bodies under forces.

Why Aerodynamics?

Now, one may think, what is the necessity to study about dynamics of air and its interaction with the solid objects coming in its way.

The answer is if you can fly in an aeroplane then in the design of an aeroplane, aerodynamics plays a crucial role. If your very high-speed racing car is stick to the ground, it is because of aerodynamic design, if a skyscraper is standing under the influence of high-speed wind, its only due to the design made keeping the aerodynamics principle in mind.

A soccer ball design is influenced by the aerodynamics. Even a paper plane fly on the principle of aerodynamics, if the paper plane is properly made, it flies properly else it landed even without flying.

However, in this article, we will keep ourselves limited to the aerodynamics of an aeroplane only.

Design of aeroplane and aerodynamics –

When it comes to an aeroplane flying in the air, chiefly four forces come into play.

These are

  1. The weight of aeroplane – acting towards the earth or we can say downward.
  2. Lift – or the force keeping the aeroplane up in the sky.
  3. Thrust – the force moving the plane horizontally in the air.
  4. Drag – the force of the air against the horizontal motion of the plane.

The balance in above four forces maintains the plane in the air and tend to move it forward.

The question still is where aerodynamics plays its role.

Aerodynamics mainly affect the design of the wings of an aircraft. The main principle used is

“When a fluid is moving faster, it has lower pressure”

This principle can explain the lift force created by the aircraft wing of aerodynamic design and can be seen in the image below.


Apart from the aerodynamics of an aircraft, the aerodynamic principles and design can also be used in designing of fast-moving cars. An aerodynamic design can help a vehicle to attain much more speed than a normal design without considering aerodynamics with a similar engine.

The main concern in case of automobiles is that, while the lift is important in case of aeroplanes, it is dangerous in cars and other automobiles. So, while the aircraft is designed such the air exert upward pressure or lift, the automobiles are designed by keeping in mind that fast moving air created a downward pressure.
The soccer ball, discus etc. are also designed in such a way that air exerts the least drag on them.

The sailboats also use the principles of aerodynamics for easy and smooth movements.

Summing in the end, aerodynamics is the branch of science which tells us how things fly and how we can control flying objects.


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About Utkarsh Gupta

A teacher, A writer, A poet.

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