Section 1, Lesson 1
In Progress



Airfoils are structures that generate lift. An airplane is a combination of several different airfoils working together. Understanding how airfoils generate lift is key to stick and rudder skill as a pilot.

Lesson Notes

An airfoil is a structure that generates lift when a fluid (in this case air) flows across it. Our wings are airfoils, as are the:

  • Horizontal stabilizer
  • Vertical stabilizer
  • Ailerons
  • Elevators
  • Rudder
  • Flaps
  • Propeller
  • Trim tabs

You’ll learn more about these in the “flight controls” lesson, but just know that there are a lot of airfoils on an airplane. We use them in combination to maneuver.

Additional Resources

Flashcard Questions

What is the purpose of an airfoil?

How does an airfoil produce lift?

What other components of the airplane are airfoils besides the wings?

What is the boundary layer?

What happens to pressure as the speed of a fluid increases?

What happens to the temperature of a fluid as speed increases?

You notice at an airshow that as a jet pulls tightly in a turn, vapor forms over the wings. Why is this?

In what way does an airfoil act like a Venturi?

Your airplane can takeoff at 50 knots. You are taxiing at 10 knots into the wind when you experience a 45 knot gust.
Could your airplane accidentally become airborne?

You put your Cessna 152 on the world’s largest conveyor belt which moves backward at 50 knots. You apply full power. Will the airplane, which requires 50 knots in order to takeoff, be able to takeoff?