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Aerodynamics is the study of how airflow interacts with our airplane. It’s an important subject for any aviator, because aerodynamics concerns everything: from whether we can takeoff in the first place, to fuel burn, stalls, passenger comfort, noise, and more.

Often, when pilots demonstrate poor stick and rudder skills it is in large part because they lack practical knowledge of aerodynamics.

You do not need an engineer’s understanding of aerodynamics to fly an airplane well. Instead, you need to commit some relatively simple concepts to memory, and know how to respond well to a finite set of situations. For example, you should be able to understand, anticipate, and respond to:

  • Yaw and pitch forces as you add or remove power
  • Pitch changes required to maintain altitude as you slow down
  • Changes to angle of attack throughout phases of flight

Additional Resources