July 2011 Issue

Fictitious Forces

February’s article, "Horizontal Lift," is correct in stating the horizontal component of the lift vector turns the airplane. But as a long-time flight instructor and physics teacher I would prefer to explain the airplane turns because there is a net inward force acting on it. This is an unbalanced force, acting toward the center of the circle about which the plane is turning. And yes, the plane is accelerating even though the pilot may be maintaining a constant airspeed, his direction is changing and therefore the plane is accelerating.

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