How Gliders Work
A report about gliders by Ava A.
2012

Have you ever asked yourself, “How do gliders work?” If you have, you can learn about them by reading this article!
What is a glider?
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Figure One-Glider in Action!
First off, let’s start with what a glider is. A glider is a simple aircraft with no motor. Sailplanes (gliders) are very thin, and they are very long. Like all planes, gliders are heavier than air, but the manufactures of the gliders have to make sure they are as small and as light as possible. Gliders have to be very smooth; otherwise too much drag in the air would be created. Gliders are considered to be the simplest type of aircraft in the aviation world. Most gliders can hold one to three people, at the most. Look at figure one to see a glider in action!
How does a glider work?
Now that you know what a glider is, let’s get into how they work!
Gliders work mainly because of four things: Lift, thrust, weight, and drag. The wings on any aircraft produce lift. The wings keep the aircraft up; otherwise, it would basically just be running on an engine that is trying hard but not succeeding to complete the task of keeping the airplane up. As for thrust, most people do not know about it, unless you are a scientist, or you are doing a report on airplanes/gliders. Thrust is produced from mainly the force of the plane going forward. Weight is the mass of something, for example, the weight on the end of a balloon tail keeps the balloon down. Drag is a mechanical force generated by a solid object moving through a fluid. Reducing drag means that the glider doesn’t need to use that much altitude to maintain the speed that produces enough lift to keep the glider in the air. Now, moving along, you might ask, how does the glider get in the air without a motor? Aero-tow; I’ll get in to what that is. Aero-tow is a way of hauling the glider up into the air. It is when a large airplane with a motor tows the glider along on a very strong cable or rope. Then, the pilot of the glider controls a quick release mechanism in the nose of the aircraft, and releases. The gliders of today can glide up to 60 miles, which is measured by glide ratio. Glide ratio tells you how much horizontal distance a glider can go without losing altitude.







What is the history of the glider?
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Figure 2-Sir George Cayley
Sir George Cayley made the first workable glider. He was also the first person to interoperate flight theory into mathematics. First, in 1849, he created a glider that held a boy, and then, in 1853, he developed a glider that could hold a man, very much like himself. Another man named John Montgomery was the first American to create a glider, and he was the very first person to be able to control the glider in the air. He used hot air balloons to tow the glider into the air, and then after releasing the balloon, he piloted the aircraft back to earth.

Speaking of history, Newton's Third Law is what really helps gliders get up in the air and stay up in the air. See this link to learn about the third law of motion! 3rd law of motion


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Figure 3-My Glider Model





Glossary
Drag-the component that is designed to reduce air resistance by an aircraft while traveling through the air.
Glider- a motorless aircraft that is heavier than air.
Lift- the upward force acting on an aircraft.
Mechanism-a mechanism is an assembly of moving parts working all together to make something operate.
Thrust- the force produced by an engine. It is directed forward along the axis of the engine.
Weight- the quality or mass of heaviness in things.
Altitude- the height above something at a specific level.







Citations
Science of Everyday Things
Knight, Judson, and Neil Schlager. Science of Everyday Things. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Print.

Encyclopedia Brittanica, Sir George Cayley
"glider." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.

Encyclopedia Brittanica, Gliders
"glider." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.

Dictionary.com, Glider
"Glider." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.

How Stuff Works, Glider
"How Gliders Work." N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print