I picked this photo for today’s Monochrome Monday submission because it has a connection to my last Sculpture Saturday photo of a water sculpture at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Both photos demonstrate the the important concept of laminar or streamline flow.
In the water sculpture, a special nozzle creates a water jet where separate layers move at uniform speeds. That allows the layers to move smoothly past each other without creating bubbles or turbulence in the flow. The water jet maintains its shape and is as clear as a glass rod.
The same principles are involved in flight. An accurate explanation of lift is as complicated as the explanation of laminar flow in water and would require a good understanding of Newton’s laws and Bernoulli’s principle among other things. Basically wings allow planes to fly by creating lift through differentials between the air pressure above and below the wing. Maintaining the pressure differentials requires that air move past the wing smoothly without turbulence like the layers of water in the jets in the fountain.
When aircraft are operating at slow speed and high angles of attack (the angle between the wing and the airstream passing over it), the layers of air on top of the wing loose the ability to move smoothly. Unlike water, turbulence in the airflow is invisible.
Airplanes change the shape of their wings to avoid loss of lift and falling out of the sky of failing to achieve flight at slow airspeeds and high angles of attack which are encountered during takeoff and landing. Everyone who has looked out of the window on takeoff or landing has seen the flaps on the trailing edge of the wing deploy prior to landing and takeoff.
In the photo below you can see the slats on the leading edge of the wing. Slats are the part of the wing leading edge that move forward and down. They are also critical to safe takeoffs and landings. Together with flaps, they change the shape of the wing and reduce the angle of attack without altering the attitude of the aircraft.
It is interesting how fluid dynamics play a role in creating a transparent and perfectly shaped stream of water in a fountain and the operation of an airplane wing.
Like Eton John said: (updated)
And all this science, I don’t understand.
It’s just a job five days a week.
A blogging man, a blogging man.
Stay safe everyone and thanks for reading.