Gliding is a part of flight where a
bird or aircraft descends on an inclined path toward ground. Man-made
gliders are heavier than air, so they have to understand how to take
advantage of air resistance with respect to their aircraft. Soaring is
the term that refers to unpowered flight using the upward motions of the
air or pulsations in the wind. Learning how to glide for humans was the
precursor to understanding how to control the atmosphere to fly. The
great pioneers of aviation such as Samuel Langley, Octave Chanute, and
Wilbur and Orville Wright had to rely on the efforts of many inventors
before them who experimented with gliders.
The most famous of the pioneers in
understanding how to soar was undoubtedly Otto Lilienthal who
experimented in 1867. Lilienthal realized that data from the study of
birds was needed. He realized the superiority of the cambered or curved
surface over the flat plate as a lifting surface. Aviation history is
fascinating. You may want to assign a research project for students to
write about the history of flight.
- Hopefully students will recognize
two major factors from their gliding experiments. The movement of air
and wind can control their glider. Some designs of gliders can keep them
up longer than others.
- Have students graph the
information on graph paper. Use the following labeled axis for a bar
graph. The x axis should be labeled "Groups" and the y axis
should be labeled "meters traveled."
- Have them show the different
groups by shading in different colors or patterns. You will have to
construct two graphs, one for each of the data sets above. Emphasize
with students that they should make two graphs, into the wind and with
- The results may differ from class
to class depending on the skill of each group.