Many years ago, I was taught that Bernoulli’s Principle explains aerodynamic lift and that the layman’s explanation was that air travels further over top of the wing, therefore travels faster and faster air creates low pressure. Higher pressure under the wing and lower pressure above it causes lift. This always sat uncomfortably with me, since that would mean that aircraft could not fly inverted – something obviously possible.

So what causes lift?

Today in a discussion, I finally found out (have never gone into any detail about it when I was younger). It’s a combination of Bernoulli’s principle and another physical principle that is basically that the wing is turning the air and therefore an equal and opposite force is acting on the wing – Newton’s third, basically. Which all means that the angle of attack is rather more important than I previously thought (theoretically – I know how important it is empirically having solo’d in a glider when I was young).

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