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Encyclopedia > Angle of attack
In this diagram, the black arrow represents the direction of the wind. The wing is shown end on. The angle α is the angle of attack.
In this diagram, the black arrow represents the direction of the wind. The wing is shown end on. The angle α is the angle of attack.

Angle of attack (α, Greek letter alpha) is a term used in aerodynamics to describe the angle between the airfoil's chord line and the direction of airflow wind, effectively the direction in which the aircraft is currently moving. It can be described as the angle between where the wing is pointing and where it is going. The amount of lift generated by a wing is directly related to the angle of attack, with greater angles generating more lift (and more drag). This remains true up to the stall point, where lift starts to decrease again because of airflow separation. Planes flying at high angles of attack can suddenly enter a stall if, for example, a strong wind gust changes the direction of the relative wind. Also, to maintain a given amount of lift, the angle of attack must be increased as speed through the air decreases. This is why stalling is an effect that occurs more frequently at low speeds. Nonetheless, a wing (or any other airfoil) can stall at any speed. Image File history File links Angle_of_attack. ... Image File history File links Angle_of_attack. ... Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ... Alpha (uppercase Α, lowercase α) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. ... This article is about the branch of Physics. ... This article is about angles in geometry. ... Cross section of an airfoil showing chord In reference to aircraft, chord refers to the distance between the front and back of a wing, measured in the direction of the normal airflow. ... Wind is the roughly horizontal movement of air (as opposed to an air current) caused by uneven heating of the Earths surface. ... Airbus A380 An aircraft is any machine capable of atmospheric flight. ... Lift consists of the sum of all the fluid dynamic forces on a body perpendicular to the direction of the external flow approaching that body. ... An object falling through a gas or liquid experiences a force in direction opposite to its motion. ... In aerodynamics, a stall is a condition in which an excessive angle of attack causes loss of lift due to disruption of airflow. ...


Using a variety of additional aerodynamic surfaces — known as high-lift devices — like leading edge extensions, fighter aircraft have increased the potential flyable alpha from about 20° to over 45°, and in some designs, 90° or more. That is, the plane remains flyable when the wing's chord is perpendicular to the direction of motion. Two F/A-18 Hornets on the carrier deck. ... An A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-86 Sabre, P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang fly in formation during an air show at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. ...


Some aircraft are equipped with a built-in flight computer that automatically prevents the plane from lifting its nose any further when the maximum angle of attack is reached, in spite of pilot input. This is called the angle of attack limiter or alpha limiter. The pilot may disengage the alpha limiter at any time, thus allowing the plane to perform tighter turns (but with considerably higher risk of going into a stall). A famous military example of this is Pugachev's Cobra, a maneuver which has only be performed by the MiG-29, the Su-27/Su-33 and some prototype Western aircraft, although some consider the F-15/F-16 to be capable if really pushed. Modern airliners which limit the angle of attack by means of computers include the Airbus 320, 330, 340 and 380 series. In aerodynamics, a stall is a condition in which an excessive angle of attack causes loss of lift due to disruption of airflow. ... The Pugachev Cobra is a fighter aircraft maneuver. ... The Mikoyan MiG-29 (NATO reporting name Fulcrum) is a Russian fighter aircraft used in the air superiority role. ... The Sukhoi Su-27 (NATO reporting name Flanker) is a Russian fighter aircraft designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau (SDB). ... The Sukhoi Su-27 (NATO reporting name Flanker) is a Russian fighter aircraft designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau (SDB). ... The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the U.S. Air Force to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. ... The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a modern multi-role jet fighter aircraft built in the United States and used by dozens of countries all over the world. ... Airbus S.A.S. is a leading aircraft manufacturer based in Toulouse, France. ...


Sailing

In sailing, the angle of attack is the angle between a mid-sail and the direction of the wind. The physical principles involved are the same as for aircraft. See points of sail Sailing at sunset Wooden sailing boat Sailing is the skillful art of controlling the motion of a sailing ship or smaller boat, across a body of water. ... Points of sail is the term used to describe a sailing boats course in relation to the wind direction. ...


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Angle of attack - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (443 words)
Angle of attack (α, Greek letter alpha) is a term used in aerodynamics to describe the angle between the airfoil's chord line and the direction of airflow wind, effectively the direction in which the aircraft is currently moving.
The amount of lift generated by a wing is directly related to the angle of attack, with greater angles generating more lift (and more drag as it increases the frontal area).
In sailing, the angle of attack is the angle between a mid-sail and the direction of the wind.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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