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Lift Formula

You have to know the lift formula as a PPL

by heart, so take the time to learn it. Here
it is:

L = Lift
CL = Co-efficient of Lift

/2 p = half rho (rho relates to air density)

v = velocity squared (velocity is a vector
quantity made up of speed and direction)

s = surface area of the wing

Just in case you can't quite remember

what each part of the formula represents,
the next picture should give you a little

CL - the Co-efficient of Lift

This is a number between 0 and 2 worked
out by the clever folk who are involved in
aircraft design and engineering. Us pilots
don't have to worry too much about this
number, just that it is a part of the all
important Lift Formula, and that it is
affected by the Angle of Attack of the
wing, and the Shape of the wing.

Can you, as the pilot have an effect on

the Angle of Attack of the wing? Can you
change it in any way?

Can you as the pilot of a light training

aircraft change the shape of the wing in
any way? Turn it into a Delta Wing? Can
you increase it's Camber?

/2 p - Rho

Rho relates to the density of the air at the

level and in the conditions in which you
are currently flying.

Can you, as the pilot change the density

of the air that you are busy flying in?

v - Velocity squared

Velocity relates to the speed at which you

are flying. Notice its effect is squared, so
it has a very significant impact on the
creation of lift.

Can you as the pilot change the speed of

the aircraft in any way?

s - the Surface Area of a Wing

This is the square foot / meter of the


Can you, as the pilot, change the surface

area of your light training aircraft?

In your training aircraft, the only elements

in the Lift Formula that you have any
direct control over are the :

Angle of Attack - when you pitch the

aircraft. This controls your attitude and
speed - it is your attitude, (and power),
and not your aptitude that determines
your altitude;

Wing Shape on the inboard section -

when you extend your flaps, you increase
the Camber / Curvature of the inboard
wing section;

Speed - which is determined by a

combination of Power (throttle input), and
Attitude. Note it is squared, and has a
very significant effect on lift.

All put together

Bring everything together, and you will

find that everything affects everything.

If you increase the Angle of Attack,(AoA),

you increase the Lift, and you will climb.
Increase the AoA too much, and your CL
begins to decrease as Drag increases.

Flaps down, increased Camber, increased

Lift, and visa versa.

Increase your Speed, keeping your AoA

constant, and you will also increase Lift.
Decrease Speed, AoA constant, decrease

We will talk more about this in Exercise 6

- Straight and Level Flight

For more detailed info on the elements

that make up lift, visit Exercise 4 - The
Effects of Controls

Fly from the Lift Formula back to the

Flight Lessons Briefings.

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