Principles of Flight
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,
be it an airplane, helicopter, glider, or balloon, the pilot must understand the principles involved and learn to use or
counteract these natural forces.
Structure of the Atmosphere The atmosphere is an envelope of air that surrounds the Earth
and rests upon its surface. It is as much a part of the Earth as the seas or the land, but air differs from land and water as it is
a mixture of gases. It has mass, weight, and indefinite shape.
The atmosphere is composed of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and 1 percent other gases, such as argon
or helium. Some of these elements are heavier than others.
The heavier elements, such as oxygen, settle to the surface of the Earth, while the lighter elements are lifted up to the
region of higher altitude. Most of the atmosphere’s oxygen is contained below 35,000 feet altitude.
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