Flight

Where can I find information about flight and how things fly?

Image: Airplane in midair at daytime by Emanuel Alexandru on Unsplash.

Entry last updated: 07/07/21

Introduction

Flight is about being able to leave the ground and fly or move through the air. Birds fly, some insects fly and people use machines like planes, helicopters and hot air balloons to help them fly.

There are forces that are needed for flight like lift, gravity, thrust, and drag.

Principles of flight

The websites below will help you understand parts of aeroplanes and how planes fly.

Gale in Context Elementary

Gale in Context Elementary is part of the EPIC databases, and a great place to start for all sorts of topics. It has been put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Enter 'flight' into the search bar.
  • Look under Book articles for Airplanes.
  • Read about the different parts of an airplane and how planes fly.
Tip: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Science Learning Hub

Science Learning Hub is put together for students, by the University of Waikato and Curious Minds (NZ). It has lots of useful articles and videos on science and technology subjects like flight.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

ExplainThatStuff

This education website belongs to a science writer. It has a collection of articles about science and technology, so it's very useful for information on the science of flight.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

YouTube: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

This is the official YouTube channel of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. It has lots of videos about flight and flying machines. To search within this YouTube channel:

Flight in nature

Birds and insects were flying much before airplanes. Here are some reliable websites that help explain flight in nature.

DK Find Out!

Here you will find lots of well-illustrated and easy to understand information on all sorts of topics including flight.

  • Enter the search word 'flight' into the search bar.
  • Go to the articles Inside a wing and How birds fly to understand how feathers, muscle and movement help birds fly.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg [flight]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Britannica School

This online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica on EPIC covers history, geography, social sciences, science, technology, and art topics.

  • Select Primary to begin with.
  • Enter 'flying' into the search bar.
  • Look at Flying fish, Bat (mammal) and Squirrel (rodent) to understand how these animals fly.
  • Remember to explore the images and videos available with the topics.

History of flight

From kites to modern aircraft, these websites have been selected to help you discover when men began to fly and how flight has changed over the years.

DKfindout

DKfindout has a lot on the story of human flight and the different ways people tried to fly.

  • Enter 'flight' into the search bar.
  • Select the article Wright Flyer to read about the first flight made by Orville and Wilbur Wright.
  • Go to the article History of aircraft and choose different pictures for information on each of the ways of flying.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara answers all questions about the people, environment, history, culture and society of New Zealand.

  • Enter 'flight' into the search bar.
  • Look for the story on Aviation to read about the first flights in New Zealand and the history of this industry.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Science Learning Hub

This site also has information about the history of flight.

  • Enter 'flight' into the search bar.
  • Go to the article A progression of flight — timeline to read when flight began and how it has improved over time.
  • It mentions Richard Pearce from New Zealand who made his first attempt to fly in 1904.

Books

Your local or school library may also have some books about flight. Check out these titles:

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