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6 Wing Designs That Every Pilot Should Recognize

If you're learning to fly, you might have heard about wing planforms. Different wing planforms can typically be grouped into those used for low-speed flight, and those used for high-speed flight. Here are the 6 most common wing planforms out there.

1) Rectangular wings stall from the root, but they create lots of induced drag at the tips. Below, you can see how rectangular the Piper PA-23 Aztec's wing really is. There's a reason why they call it the "Hershey Bar" wing.

Aleksander Markin

2) Tapered wings get thinner at the tips, which reduces drag. The problem? They tend to stall at the wing tips first, which requires designers to add wing washout.

Wikimedia

3) Elliptical wings are the most efficient, with low drag, but they stall suddenly and evenly across the wing. In order to keep an elliptical wing shape, each wing spar on the Supermarine Spitfire had to be made by hand - substantially increasing manufacturing time.

Airwolfhound

4) While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage over a monoplane, it produces more drag than a similar unbraced or cantilever monoplane wing.

Jim Raeder

5) Swept wings are perfect for transonic speeds, and you'll find them on planes like the Boeing 747. But swept wings have pretty poor low-speed performance, and they typically need high-lift devices (slats and flaps) for takeoff and landing.

Sam Chui

6) Delta wings are great for going fast - and when we say fast, we mean supersonic speeds. The F-106 Delta Dart is a great example of this, flying at speeds of up to Mach 2.3 (1,750 mph).

Wikimedia

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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