Forces of flight


Forces of flight

When an airplane flies, the wing is designed to provide enough Lift to overcome the airplane’s Weight, while the engine provides enough Thrust to overcome Drag and move the airplane forward.

4 forces of flight

Increasing the weight of an aircraft affects the amount of lift needed. In turn, a larger wing would provide more lift, but that would increase the amount of drag and therefore increase the amount of thrust needed. The forces of flight are interconnected, and a change in one affects the others.


  1. Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's second and third laws. When a system expels or accelerates mass in one direction, the accelerated mass will cause a force of equal magnitude but opposite direction on that system.


In fluid dynamics, drag (sometimes called air resistance, a type of friction


In science and engineering, the weight of an object is usually taken to be the force on the object due to gravity.


A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the on coming flow direction.