The Topic:

Easier - Flight is the ability to fly. It is the act of traveling or moving through the air.
Harder - Humans first observed flight in other animals in the natural world. Birds have wings and most have the ability to fly. Many insects can fly. Only one mammal can fly, the bat. However both the flying squirrel and the flying lemur can glide.
Humans experimented and developed ways of flying. Lighter-than-air methods that have successfully been used include hot air balloons and blimps. On December 17, 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first successful heavier-than-air flights near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They had built their airplane after studying the writings of other aviation pioneers and experimenting with gliders, kites, and wind tunnels. Helicopters and gliders are the two other types of heavier-than-air craft.
Four basic forces are involved in the flight of an airplane: (1) gravity, (2) lift, (3) drag, and (4) thrust. Thrust is created by a plane's propeller or its jet engines. Drag is the natural force of air that resists an airplane's forward movement. Lift is created by the plane's wings as they move through the air. And gravity is the natural force that pushes a plane toward the ground.
Gravity and lift are opposing forces, as are drag and thrust. When the plane's lift equals the force of gravity and the force of thrust equals the drag, the plane remains in level, cruising flight. When one or more of these four forces change, the plane begins to change its altitude, direction, or speed.
This comprehensive site has aviation news and history, a huge photo collection of all types of aircraft, and much, much more.
Aviation at
This comprehensive site connects to a varied collection of aviation resources; everything from aerobatics to ballooning, paragliding, flight simulators and more
Firsts of Aviation at Gander Academy
This is the site of a great collection of links on aviation and flight.
Off to a Flying Start: Kids Flight Page from NASA
This introductory site on flight includes great information about aircraft and airports.
Other Related NASA Sites:
2) Aerospace Team Online
3) Basics of Space Flight
4) Four Forces of Flight
5) How Things Fly
6) Using Research Tools to Design an Airplane
7) Wright Flyer Online from NASA's Aero Design Team
After visiting several of the websites, complete one or more of the following activities:
Make a Paper Airplane. To get ideas and look at plans for different types of paper airplanes, visit some to the websites below. Organize a competition with your friends. See who can fly their paper airplane the farthest and the highest. Vote on whose plane is the best looking and most creative. Come up with other contests. Everybody wins!
1) Kids Corner from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
2) Kids Corner at the Federal Aviation Administration
3) Alex's Paper Airplanes
4) Paper Airplanes by K. Blackburn
5) Paper Airplanes
6) Build the Best Paper Airplane in the World
Train on a Flight Simulator. Download the software at GlidePath. GlidePath is an instrument landing system (ILS) simulation in which you attempt to land a light aircraft by reference to instrument indications only. Stay within 100 feet of the glidepath and runway centerline! Keep your speed above stall, and below 300 knots! You may also want to check out other sites like FlightGear, Flight Deck Simulations, and Vertigo Flight Simulator.
Create a Cockpit. Create a mural on the wall replicating what a pilot sees in the cockpit. What instruments do you need to include? What is the function of each instrument? Use the simulator sites above for ideas.
Explore the Heroes of Flight. Use the links below to find out about the heroes of flight. Select a person and write a story about one of his or her flights. Mix facts with creative writing.
Make a Timeline of Flight History. Use the websites and library resources to identify the major historical events involved in humankind's quest to fly. Illustrate your timeline with drawings, pictures, and photographs. Pick one of the events and learn all that you can about it. Create a multimedia presentation that features what you learn.
Explain the Science of Flight. It's sometimes hard to believe that we can actually fly! Can you explain how it works? Create an animation or series of still pictures showing how flight works.
Write a Flight Story. Use Air Traffic Control System Command Center or Flight Tracker to follow an actual flight. Do some creative writing. Who is on the flight? Where are they going? Why?
Compare Birds and Airplanes. Compare the flight of birds and airplanes. Create a Venn diagram showing how they are similar and different.
Choose an Aircraft. Choose a type of aircraft other than than airplane. Compare this type of aircraft to the airplane in terms of the science of flight. Invent your own aircraft that compares two or more different types of aircraft.
Learn by Completing a Flight WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one or more of the following WebQuest sites:
1) Birds in Flight (Grades 2-4)
2) Flight by Mr. Bryant (Grade 5)
3) Forces of Flight Web Quest
4) Flight Discovery (Grades 3-7)
5) Flight Web Quest by K. Hammond
Lets Go Fly A Kite! But before you do that, make your own kite. Find some kitebuilding plans and get construction ideas at the kite building sites below. Before you try out your new kite, check your local kite flying weather conditions and review sites like Rules for Safe Kite Flying. You may want to get involved with and organize an event for the upcoming National Kite Month.
1) 20 Kids * 20 Kites * 20 Minutes
2) Building Small Kites
3) Brooxes Basic Box Kite
4) Catch the Wind
5) Kites for Kinder Art
6) Make Your Own Kite
7) The Virtual Kite 200
Websites By Kids For Kids
Aeronautic Nation (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
This comprehensive site covers many aspects of flight, including great aviation disasters, the inventors, early aviators, and experimenters.
Aerodynamics (2000 ThinkQuest Project)
This site is basically about aerodynamics, which is how planes move and stay in the air.
Aeronet (1999 ThinkQuest Project)
Learn about the basics of flight such as the effect of air pressure and attack angles.
Aviation: The Science of Flight (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
This website presents a complete history of aviation past, present, and future. Discover facts on the early visionaries such as Leonardo da Vinci, peruse information about the beginnings of modern flight, and check out a history of space flight.
Aviation Through the Ages (1998 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Take a trip through the history of flight. Learn why gliding flight is different from 'true' flight.
Continuing Evolution of Jet Planes (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
This project covers sixteen different types of jets including the Boeing 737 and a F-22 Raptor. Learn about the science of flight and what makes flight possible.
Flight (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
Learn about the history of flight. Choose an aircraft, view the blueprints, and investigate aerodynamics.
Flight Deck (2000 ThinkQuest Project)
This webpage looks into aerodynamics and it's uses, from birds to helicopters and aeroplanes, and also covers Bernoulli's principle and the Venturi effect.
Flight Through the Past: Aviation in the 20th Century (1999 ThinkQuest Project)
This site focuses on the influence of aviation in the past century.
Hanger (1996 ThinkQuest Project)
Students can learn the basics of flight on this site. They'll learn how Bernoulli's Principle enables wings to produce lift, forces, propellers and combustion engines. There are also images and statistics on civilian, military, and WWII aircraft.
History of Military Aviation
This project site features images and descriptions of military aircraft.
Interactive History of Flight (1998 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Learn about the history of flight--how people took to the air. Then try to fly a plane with an interactive model. Create your own design for a futuristic plane.
Manned Space Flight (1996 ThinkQuest Project)
See what it took to become an astronaut and the training involved. Learn about the history of rocket propulsion and the manned U.S. space program.
Marvel of Flight (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
Explore the history of flight from the ideas of da Vinci to the jet age. Test your knowledge of flight history with an online quiz. Learn about the four basic principles that allow a plane to fly: lift, gravity, thrust, and drag.
Skyline Aviation (1999 ThinkQuest Project)
This site explores the milestones and technological breakthroughs that have occurred in aviation history.
Take Off Into Flight (1999 ThinkQuest Junior Project)
Visit this site to learn more about planes.
Women in Aviation (1998 ThinkQuest Project)
Women have been involved in aviation since flight of the first hot air balloon, and their accomplishments deserve much wider recognition This comprehensive web site introduces you to remarkable women such as Jackie Cochran, Amelia Earhart, and Beryl Markham.
More Websites on Flight
K-8 Aeronautics Internet Textbook
This site covers aeronautics from the history of aircraft to the aerodynamics of sports.
Not To Be Missed Sections:
2) A Very Natural Occurrence
3) Principles of Aeronautics
Aeronautics: Principles of Flight - Level 1
Learn about aviation, the four forces that act on a plane in flight, the names and functions of the surfaces of an airplane, and then try some flight experiments.
Air Traffic Control System Command Center
Select an airport from the map or from the drop-down list to obtain the latest delay information.
Related Website:
2) Flight Tracker,2096,1-1,00.shtml
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Celebrate the 100th year of flight on this cool site. View a timeline of flying history, learn about the parts of an airplane, see some photos, and much more.
Anatomy of a Blimp
Ever wonder how that thing stays up there? This site features a dissection of a blimp and an explanation.
Realistic Modeling of Bird Flight Animations
This site provides video clips of animated bird flight. Click on the image to load. Be patient, it will take a little while but is worth the wait.
Learn about Boeing aircraft.
How Airplanes Work by M. Brain and B. Adkins at HowStuffWorks
This site explains both the Longer Path explanation and the Newtonian explanation of how lift is created.
Related Websites at HowStuffWorks:
2) Aviation (Links-site)
3) How Concordes Work by C. Freundrich
4) How Helicopters Work by M. Brain
5) Personal Jetpacks Take Off
Flights of Inspiration from Franklin Institute
Learn about the Wright brothers who made the first flight, Alcock and Brown who made the first transatlantic flight and more.
National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian
"The Wright Broterhs - The Invention of the Aerial Age" exhibit covers thje topics of "Who were Wilbur and Orville", Inventing A Flying Machine", and "The Aerial Age Begins". Includes interaction experiments and classroom activities.
Another Museum Site:
2) Canadian Museum of Flight
Science Fun with Airplanes from Ohio State University
Learn about the principles of flight and how pilots control airplanes. You can even build your own experimental glider!
Wayback - Flight at PBS American Experience
This website examines the early days of aviation and the fearless flyers who defied the laws of gravity and proved that men and women could rule the vast blue skies.
Other Related PBS Sites:
2) Balloon Race Around the World from PBS NOVA Online
3) Fly Girls from PBS American Experience
Amelia Earhart
Learn about about her life, flights, and disappearance.
Similar Websites:
2) Official site of Amelia Earhart
3) Amelia Earhart
4) Amelia Earhart: 1897-1937
Bessie Coleman (1892 -1926) from PBS American Experience
Learn about this aviator's life and accomplishments.
Related Websites:
2) Bessie Coleman
3) Legacy of Bessie Coleman by L. Oertly
Lindbergh from PBS American Experience
The companion site to a PBS program includes a timeline, stories from his life, and maps of his famous flight.
Related Websites:
2) Charles Lindbergh Hall of Fame
3) Charles Lindbergh
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
Learn about one of Australia's famed pilots, known for his oceanic flights.
Similar Website:
2) Charles Kingsford Smith
Wright Brothers at First Flight
Learn about the Wright brothers experiments that led to their first flight.
Related Websites:
2) How We Made the First Flight by O. Wright
3) Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company
4) Wright Brothers History: The Tale of the Airplane by G. Bradshaw
Websites For Teachers
Activities for Teaching Flight from the Smithsonian (Grades K-6)
These lesson plans have students draw upon their own experiences and sense of movement to understand the basic physics of flight.
Aerodynamics (Grades K-6)
Here you find instructions for several activities to help students understand the different things that affect aerodynamics: lift, drag, wind currents, fluid dynamics, and more.
Aeronautics Activities from Glen Learning Technologies (Grades 6-9)
This links-site connects to several activities, experiments and lesson plans that will help explain some of basic principles of aeronautics.
Other Lesson Plans/Activities from Glen Learning Technologies:
2) Beginner's Guide to Aerodynamics (Grades 6-12)
Amazing Airplane!
Students will distinguish between mechanical things that fly, natural things that fly, and make-believe things that fly plus have a basic understanding of how bats, planes, and birds fly.
Know All the Angles at Wright Flyer Online
These lesson and activities sheets introduces the concept that the launch angle affects airflow around the wing and thus affects the amount of lift generated by the wing.
Teachers Lounge at Wright Flyer Online (Grades 4-8)
This activity is designed to introduce students to the concept that the launch angle affects airflow around the wing, and thus affects the amount of lift generated by the wing.
wind tunnel
air flow
air pressure
flight simulation
paper airplane
airplane surfaces
test pilot
military aircraft
aircraft design
Bernoulli's Principle
air resistance
Air Traffic Control
Peregrine Falcon
Venturi Effect
experimental aircraft
home built
cargo plane
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 2/01. Updated by King Family, 11/04.