Reference Terms
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Aircraft

An aircraft is any machine capable of atmospheric flight.

A first division by design among aircraft is between lighter-than-air, aerostat, and heavier-than-air aircraft, aerodyne.

Examples of lighter-than-air aircraft include non-steerable balloons, such as hot air balloons and gas balloons, and steerable airships (sometimes called dirigible balloons) such as blimps (that have non-rigid construction) and rigid airships that have an internal frame.

In heavier-than-air aircraft, there are two ways to produce lift: aerodynamic lift and engine lift.

In the case of aerodynamic lift, the aircraft is kept in the air by wings or rotors (see aerodynamics).

With engine lift, the aircraft defeats gravity by use of vertical thrust.

Examples of engine lift aircraft are rockets, and VTOL aircraft such as the Hawker-Siddeley Harrier.

Among aerodynamically lifted aircraft, most fall in the category of fixed-wing aircraft, where horizontal airfoils produce lift, by profiting from airflow patterns determined by Bernoulli's equation and, to some extent, the Coanda effect.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Aircraft", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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August 1, 2015

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