A vehicle that can fly by getting help from the air is called an aircraft. It uses either static lift, in a few rare instances, downward thrust from jet engines to counteract the force of gravity.

Aeroplanes, helicopters, airships (including blimps), gliders, paramotors, and hot air balloons are a few examples of common types of aircraft.

Aviation refers to the human activity that surrounds aircraft. Aeronautics is the study of aviation, which includes creating and building aeroplanes.

Unmanned aerial vehicles may be remotely controlled or self-controlled by onboard computers, unlike crewed aircraft that have an onboard pilot. Several factors, including lift type, aircraft propulsion, usage, and others, can be used to categorise aeroplanes.

Lifting techniques
Aerostats are lighter than air.

Airborne balloons

1930s aerial photograph of the Battleship Akron over Manhattan
Similar to how ships float on water, aerostats employ buoyancy to float in the air.

They are distinguished by one or more sizable cells or canopies that are filled with a gas that has a lower density than the air around it, such as hot air, helium, or hydrogen.

This adds up to the same weight as the air that the craft moves when its weight is combined with that of the structure of the aircraft.

Before the third century BC, the Chinese constructed little hot air balloons known as sky lanterns, which were mostly employed for ceremonial occasions.

Originally, a balloon was an aerostat, but an airship was a huge powered aircraft design, typically fixed-wing.

According to reports, Frederick Handley Page called smaller passenger aircraft “Air yachts” and “ships of the air” in 1919.

Large intercontinental flying boats were also known as “ships of the air” or “flying ships” in the 1930s.

but none had yet been constructed. The use of these terminologies started to shift with the development of motorised balloons, sometimes known as dirigible balloons, and later rigid hulls, which allowed for a significant rise in size.

The Zeppelins were the largest and most well-known of the enormous powered aerostats, which were distinguished by a strong exterior framework and a separate aerodynamic covering surrounding the gas bags.

Because there were no large enough fixed-wing or non-rigid balloons to be named airships, the term “airship” began to be used to refer to various types of aircraft.

Subsequently, a number of mishaps, including the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, brought to the demise of these airships. Nowadays, an “airship” is a motorised aerostat, whereas a “balloon” is an unpowered one.

A dirigible is a motorised, steerable aerostat. This phrase is occasionally used exclusively in reference to non-rigid balloons, and it is also sometimes used synonymously with a dirigible balloon, which is an airship (which may then be rigid or non-rigid).

Non-rigid dirigibles are distinguished by a gasbag that is only slightly aerodynamic and has stabilising fins at the back.

These quickly earned the name “blimps.” This design was frequently used for tethered balloons during World War II; in windy conditions, it both lessens the pressure on the tether and stabilises the balloon.

Together with the shape, the moniker “blimp” was also popularised. Any small airship or dirigible is referred to as a blimp in modern times, but they can be propelled or unpowered.

In order for a response to take place (per Newton’s laws of motion) that will push the aircraft higher, heavier-than-air aircraft, such as aeroplanes, must find a mechanism to push air or gas downward.

The term’s etymology can be traced back to this dynamic air movement. Dynamic upthrust can be generated in two ways: via aerodynamic lift and powered lift from engine thrust.

The most frequent form of lift is aerodynamic, with wings moving forward to support fixed-wing aircraft and spinning rotors, commonly referred to as “rotary wings,” to support rotorcraft.

A wing is a flat, horizontal surface that typically has an aerofoil-shaped cross-section. Air must move across the wing and produce lift in order to fly.

Aerodyes that are heavier-than-air


A kite is attached to the ground and is propelled by the wind’s velocity as it passes over its wings, which can be rigid or flexible, stationary or rotational.

The aircraft’s engine thrust is directed downward in a powered lift. V/STOL aircraft, like the Lockheed Martin F-35B and the Harrier jump jet, take off and land vertically before switching to aerodynamic lift during steady flight.

Although a pure rocket, which can even travel into space and is not dependent on air for lift, is not typically thought of as an aerodyne, several aerodynamic lift vehicles have been propelled by or assisted by rocket engines.

Airflow across their bodies causes rocket-powered missiles to experience aerodynamic lift at very high speeds.

Aeroplanes with engines

Powered aircraft are equipped with one or more onboard mechanical power sources, most often aircraft engines, though rubber and human labour have also been utilised.

Gas turbines or small, lightweight reciprocating engines make up the majority of aircraft engines. Tanks are used to store engine gasoline, and bigger aircraft also have extra fuel tanks in the fuselage. Tanks are often located in the wings.

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