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Make: Planes, Gliders and Paper Rockets by James Floyd Kelly, Rick Schertle

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Chapter 3. Airplanes and Gliders

The airplane stays up because it doesn’t have the time to fall.

—Orville Wright

The Wright brothers are a classic example of the trial and error that inventors have experienced throughout history. After numerous attempts, involving kites and gliders of varying sizes and developing their own gasoline engine, on December 17, 1903, the brothers finally achieved the first successful powered flight—a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds. By the end of the day, they had flown 852 feet and stayed in the air a grand total of 59 seconds. They finally got the right combination of power, lift, and control. Within 20 years of that historic flight, air travel had become a part of everyday life.

An airplane has four forces ...

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