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Flight Theory and Aerodynamics A Practical Guide for Operational Safety 3rd Edition

Flight Theory and Aerodynamics A Practical Guide for Operational Safety 3rd Edition PDF

Author: Charles E. Dole (

Publisher: Wiley-Interscience


Publish Date: November 21, 2016

ISBN-10: 1119233402

Pages: 384

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

The third edition of Flight Theory and Aerodynamics was revised to further enhance the book’s use as an introductory text for colleges and universities offering an aeronautical program. The publisher conducted a survey with aviation schools to determine what was needed in an updated text. The result is this third edition that meets not only classroom requirements but also practical application.
All seventeen chapters have some level of updating and additional content. The revision retains mathematical proofs, but also seeks to provide a non-mathematical discussion of aerodynamics geared toward a more practical application of flight theory. As such, it is a how to handbook as well as one about the theory of flying. It was written for all participants in the aviation industry: Pilots, aviation maintenance technicians, aircraft dispatchers, air traffic controllers, loadmasters, flight engineers, flight attendants, meteorologists, avionics technicians, aviation managers, as all have a vested interest in both safety and operational efficiency.

Updates in the third edition:
•New sequence of chapters for better flow of topics
•Extensive upgrade to the helicopter chapter, including discussion of other types of rotorcraft
•Added modern graphics, including correlation with current FAA publications
•Added detail in subject matter emphasizing practical application
•Additional terms and abbreviations

The authors would like to thank our contacts at Wiley for their support throughout this revision as well as the support of our colleagues and families. In particular the authors would like to thank Steven. A. Saunders for his technical contribution to this revision, employing over 50 years of military, airline, and general aviation experience in the process. Finally, the authors would like to gratefully acknowledge the previous work of Charles
E. Dole and James E. Lewis for their contribution to improving aviation safety throughout the aviation industry.

Joseph R. Badick
Brian A. Johnson

A basic understanding of the physical laws of nature that affect aircraft in flight and on the ground is a prerequisite for the study of aerodynamics. Modern aircraft have become more sophisticated, and more automated, using advanced materials in their construction, requiring pilots to renew their understanding of the natural forces encountered during flight. Understanding how pilots control and counteract these forces better prepares pilots and engineers for the art of flying, and for harnessing the fundamental physical laws that guide them.

Perhaps your goal is to be a pilot, who will “slip the surly bonds of earth,” as John Gillespie Magee wrote in his classic poem “High Flight.” Or maybe you aspire to build or maintain aircraft as a skilled technician. Or possibly you wish to serve in another vital role in the aviation industry, such as manager, dispatcher, meteorologist, engineer, teacher, or another capacity. Whichever area you might be considering, this textbook will attempt to build on previous material you have learned, and hopefully will prepare you for a successful aviation career.


This chapter begins with a review of the basic principles of physics and concludes with a summary of linear motion, mechanical energy, and power. A working knowledge of these areas, and how they relate to basic aerodynamics, is vital as we move past the rudimentary “four forces of flight” and introduce thrust and power-producing aircraft, lift and drag curves, stability and control, maneuvering performance, slow-speed flight, and other topics.

Up to this point you have seen that there are four basic forces acting on an aircraft in flight: lift, weight, thrust, and drag. Now we must understand how these forces change as an aircraft accelerates down the runway, or descends on final approach to a runway and gently touches down even when traveling twice the speed of a car on the highway. Once an aircraft has safely made it into the air, what effect does weight have on its ability to climb, and should the aircraft climb up to the flight levels or stay lower and take “advantage” of the denser air closer to the ground?

By developing an understanding of the aerodynamics of flight, how design, weight, load factors, and gravity affect an aircraft during flight maneuvers from stalls to high speed flight, the pilot learns how to control the balance between these forces. This textbook will help clarify these issues, among others, hopefully leaving you with a better understanding of the flight environment.


An introduction to aerodynamics must begin with a review of physics, and in particular, the branch of physics that will be presented here is called mechanics. We will examine the fundamental physical laws governing the forces acting on an aircraft in flight, and what effect these natural laws and forces have on the performance characteristics of aircraft. To control an aircraft, whether it is an airplane, helicopter, glider, or balloon, the pilot must understand the principles involved and learn to use or counteract these natural forces.

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