5 Resources for Learning About Aviation – How Airplanes Fly

Today at the WWII Museum in New Orleans I took a bunch of pictures of My Gal Sal including some 3D images that I’ll use in VR headsets. Looking at My Gal Sal and some of the other planes in the museum was a treat for someone like me who is fascinated by aviation. When I got back to my hotel room I went through my archives to find some of my favorite resources for learning about flight and how airplanes fly.

The Minute Physics video How Do Airplanes Fly? explains the roles of wings, propellers, turbines, and wind currents in making a plane fly.

The Contest for Human Flight is an interactive site about the competition between the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. National Geographic has an interactive timeline that complements the episode. In the timeline you can see archival videos of the first airplane flights, images of prototype drawings, and additional passages of text about the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss.

The Wright Brothers – The Invention of the Aerial Age is another good timeline for teaching about the developments made by the Wright Brothers. Dig into the Interactive Experiments section of the timeline and you’ll find Engineering the Wright WayEngineering the Wright Way offers interactive simulations in which students learn about wing design by joining the Wright Brothers for test flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

America by Air online exhibit is a series of thirteen online activities that take students through the history of commercial aviation in the United States.

How Things Fly features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.


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