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Facts about planes

Planes are probably the most famous and innovative mode of transportation. Air travel is considered to be one of the fastest ways to travel as well as being one of the safest. Via planes, a person is capable of reaching practically any location on earth, no matter how far off, in less than 24 hours. Currently, the longest plane ride in the world is from Singapore to New Jersey, America. The flight is 18 hours 50 minutes long and spans 10,335 miles—halfway around the world!

Some planes are impressive enough to appear in air shows.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Although most people have been on a plane at some time in their life few know many facts about this mode of transportation. Below are a few interesting tidbits about planes:

• The first controlled and sustained flight was achieved by the Wright Brothers on December 17, 1903.

• Planes have wings that feature an airfoil shape, which helps overcome the effect of gravity pulling down on the plane.

• The wing creates lift as it moves through the air, a process that can be explained by Bernoulli's principle. Because of the airfoil shape, air flows faster over the top than the bottom, creating higher pressure underneath the wing which then pushes the plane up through the lower air pressure.

• Disturbed air and friction create drag as the plane moves forward, slowing it down. Hence, if a plane is flying into the wind the flight will be longer, if it’s flying in the same direction as the wind the flight will be shorter.

• An engine provides thrust to move the plane forward at a speed great enough to overcome drag and allow the wings to create the lift necessary to fly.

• Airships and blimps are lighter than air and use buoyancy for flight. They are typically filled with gas (like helium) that is less dense than the surrounding atmosphere.

• Airports in the US alone cater to about 29,000 domestic and international flights each day. The cost and safety of aviation make it one of the most in-demand services of today.

• The US airline industry makes approximately 170 billion US dollars in revenue each year. The industry is composed of 600 companies and the top 10, including American, Delta, and United Continental compose more than 75 percent of industry revenue.

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