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If You're A Pilot, You Should Know These 7 Aerodynamics Facts

Understand the aerodynamics of flight, and you'll be a better pilot.

1) If you're flying a normally aspirated plane like the Cessna 172, don't climb up to a higher altitude for best endurance. To get the same amount of power at a higher altitude, you'll have to run a higher RPM, which increases your fuel burn.

Nick Meyer

2) During a level, banked turn at a constant airspeed, you're still accelerating. Acceleration is not just a change in speed, it's a change in direction. So as you turn, you're accelerating.

3) Vortex generators are added to a wing to reduce pressure drag around the airfoil.

Bill Abbott

4) The Law of Propulsive Efficiency states that an aircraft will be more efficient when the speed of the propelling air (relative wind) is close to the speed the aircraft is trying to fly at. That's one reason why turbojets are more efficient at higher speeds.


5) When you exceed your critical angle of attack, your lift is reduced, not lost.

6) As it gets hotter outside, the viscosity of air goes up. Yes, you read that correctly. Just because air expands when it's hot does not mean its viscosity, or measurement of resistance to flow, decreases. Warm air molecules have more energy and move around more, so they cause more resistance to the flow around your aircraft.


7) The center of pressure around a wing moves aft as you add flaps, causing that pitching-down moment you've felt in the airplane.

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, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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