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Can You Learn Physics by Flying a Radio-Controlled Plane?

by Dec 30, 2016Physics

Physics is a subject that deals withenergies and matters, inanimate objects, their interactions with others and motions in different cases.These scientific terms may seem very complicated, but actually, they are simpler than they look.

Physics is behind most of our dailyactivities and items that we use. You may think of a light, a fan, ora radio as an example of Physics in daily use. But, there are simpler examples.

When we play games liketable tennis, cricket, football, etc.,there hides physics in each step. So, it is evident thata simple job like throwing a ball or hitting it with a bathas got some unseenphysics inside them. Hence, it should not be much surprisingfor you to hear that physicslies in every step that we take each day.

We can learn physics from each of thesesteps if we want to. We can learn a lot about contact force and friction whilegoing up a stairs,skating andeven while walking or slipping onfloor. As you now know that physics hides behind outdoor games too, you can learn while playing them.Learn from everything in your daily life.

Radio-controlled plane

If you wish to learn physics from games and sports, then there are n numbers of ways. When we speak of games and playing,we find that playing with electronic itemslike, remote control cars, planes; helicopters, etc. are quite popular amongst kids.

So, can they learn physics from playing with a radio-controlled plane? Our answer is yes; they can if they want to and of course if guided properly. But, what physics lies inside a toy plane? There are classicaltheoriesof physics behindfunctioning of different parts of a toy plane.Now, let us see how Physics is related to these parts of a plane:

To understand thesePhysics, we must first learn about all different necessary parts of a plane that is required for it to fly. They are:

  • Body

It is abasic part of a plane which carries all cargoes and passengersor all necessary circuits and chips in case of toy planes. It should be elongated sleekand spindle-like.

  • Wings

As we all have seen that planes have two longwings on either side of its body, just like a bird. These wings are very light and when seen directly along its length we find that its upper surface is convex or bulging, while it’s lower surface is flat.

  • Propeller

It is alight fanattached atits pointing front end whose blades are designedto suck air from front and blow towards its back swiftly.

  • Elevators

There are usually three pairs of elevators, two on wings and one on tail of plane.Elevators are movable horizontal flapswhich can be rotatedup and downabout an axis along their lengths.

  • Rudder

It is a flap projecting vertically up from plane’stail and rotatable to the left or right around a vertical axis.

  • Circuits

There is a master circuit which connects everything includingpropeller, elevators and rudder. This circuithas a receiver and can be controlled by radio signals from any properly tuned radio-controller.

These are in briefsomeparts of a plane. All these parts are made from light and preferably hollow materials, thus made as light as possible.

Now, let us see how a plane flies and how simple laws of nature control something which is seemingly so complicated.

  • Moving forward

How does any plane move forward? The answer is propeller. It sucks air and throws it towards its back. Thusthisaction generates enough reaction forthis plane following the Newton’s laws of motion and pushes it forward. Speed of propeller fans decides how fast our plane will move ahead.

  • Taking off

Take-off is only possible afterattaining a certain speed and not before.Why is it so?When any plane moves forwardair is dragged behind over and below its wings.Due to this peculiar cross-section of wings a high-pressure area is created below it and a low-pressure area above. This gives it an upward force.

Widerand longer it’swing, larger is this force.After attaininga critical speed, this force is enough to lift our plane in theair. But that is not end of story. For a perfect and smooth takeoff a plane has to use its elevator.

When the elevators on its wings are rotated down it allows the wind to blow downwards behind it and this action too creates a reaction that pushes the elevator and along with the wing upwards. At the same time, if the elevators on the tail are rotated a bit upwards, then they push the wind up and the reactionpushes the tail towards the ground making the front of the plane lift off.

  • Flying and turning

After the successful lift-off, the plane can flyforward easilywith the aid of propeller. If it wants to fly higher, it will have to increase its speed by speeding up the propellers. Slowing down the propellers will result in a descentin height of flight.

But, what if the plane needs to turn? There is a solution to that too.If elevators on one side are rotated in the direction opposite tothose on the other side, then the plane willturn.

Such an action would push upwind on one side and push down on the other.Hence, the plane will tilt towards the side where the reactiondue to wind is downwards.The up-thrustof the wind acting on the area of its wings will thenbank the plane to the tilted side. This banking will continue and the plane will move in circleuntil the elevators are brought back to normal alignment again.

In the mechanism of turning, the rudder comes in handy. Rotating the rudder to the left will push the wind over it to left and get a reactionto the right. This reaction will push the tail rightwards and hence the front towards left. If the rudder is directed towards right, then just the opposite will happen.

  • Landing

Unlike take off, landing is not an easy task.This is because a slightest mistake of control on elevators and propellers will crash the plane.This mechanism is just the opposite of takeoff. The elevators on the wing are directed upwards so that they are pusheddown and those on the tail are aligned down tobring the front downwards.

The propeller is slowed down gradually to make sure that the plane speed is brought down closer and closer to the critical speed needed fortakeoff.At this speed, the plane must land. The elevators on the tail must be aligned back horizontallyin right time just before landing to make sure that the wheels touches the ground first and not any other part.

  • Controlling it all

The motion of propellers, elevators and rudders are controlled by a circuit, which in turn is controlled by signals sent from the radiocontroller in players’ hands.

Usually, the switches of landing and takeoff have programmed chip in them for perfect operation. But still, during operation, the kid playing with it must have a bitof knowledge about the physics behind, at least for turning and changing altitude. So, they are actually learning physics by flying a radio-controlled plane.

Apart from that, if their curiosityis aroused by the working of a toy plane, then they are welcome to know more.

Yes! It is a fact. You can learn physics as well as other sciences while playing too. Make Science interesting with these fun facts! Get ahead in your life with science as your playmate.