The Five Major Parts of an Airplane
We tend to think of aircraft as single, uninterrupted units. There are in fact five major parts of an airplane which can be looked at separately. These can be found on nearly any model of aircraft out there.
The most obvious feature to begin with is the wing. Responsible for holding the craft aloft, it is also where the vast majority of fuel is stored during flights. Without the wing, you would have a missile instead. Wings are absolutely necessary for the kind of flight that planes do.
A wing is not much good unless the craft can be propelled forward. To this end the second main component would be the engine. These are high performance gas combustors for the most part, and the need to operate them at high output levels for extended periods of time means that they are meant to favor reliability over power.
The tail section is very important. Much of the stability and ability to maneuver comes from the tail surfaces. Without a tail an aircraft quickly becomes impossible to handle in the air and will be at an inevitable risk of crashing.
The main body of the aircraft is called the fuselage. This is typically where passengers and cargo are placed. The fuselage contains the cabin and the cockpit, and depending on the complexity of the aircraft, can be pressurized and climate controlled for the comfort of the human beings who are inside.
These are the main elements of a plane. With the wing, tail, engine, and fuselage all in place you almost have all the bits too make your own functional aircraft. Now let’s think about how you are going to land this thing, because you are probably going to want to do that at some point.
Landing gear is pretty important. Sure, you can skid an aircraft down a runway on its belly, but you really aren’t going to make any friends doing that. Airports probably hate it when that happens. So does the FAA. Be courteous and think of their feelings. A nice solid set of landing gear will allow your plane to take off and land without gouging huge scars in the tarmac.
That is the basic information about the configuration of aircraft. There are five major parts of an airplane, and those are them. The wing holds the machine aloft and holds the fuel for the engine. The tail and fuselage describe the main body of the craft and hold cargo or passengers. The landing gear, the final main component, is deployed when the airplane is preparing to arrive at an airstrip.
Flex Wing vs. Fixed Wing Ultralight Airplanes
More than a century ago, even before the Wright Brothers made their first flight, tens of other engineers tried to make a powered and controlled airplane. Many of their aircraft have been weird, funny or just so extraordinary that could never fly even in theory.
Others have been similar to the Wrights’ Flyer, with fixed wings. Once the “Flyer 1” made the successful start in the aviation, everyone else followed the concept. Until then, millions of fixed wing aircraft have been produced in the world.
With the raise of the ultralight aviation people discovered that the fixed wings bring some weight and cost-related issues and started looking for alternatives. The flex wing aircraft easy won the linkig of many engineers and pilots. Why?…
— Flex Wing Aircraft Advantages —
– They need less space. The flex wing aircraft usually have “delta bars” which are shorter than the wings of the fixed wing airplanes.
– Their wings can be taken off. Usually the delta bar can be taken off easier than the wings of an ordinary aircraft. With few manipulations they can be stored in a car garage
– They are light. The flex wing airplanes are usually categorized as ultralight trikes or microlights – it’s pretty self explanatory why.
– They are cheaper. A flex wing can cost 1/2 of the price of a similar class fixed wing aircraft. That’s a huge advantage.
– Easier to take off and land. Because of their shorter delta bars and lighter construction the flex wings can start flying from an automobile trace and land almost everywhere.
– Simpler to fly. The ultralight trikes usually have simpler control system and don’t require high pilot skills.
But still you see many more fixed wing aircraft around, don’t you? It’s not only because of the habit. They have their own very strong advantages:
— Fixed Wing Aircraft Advantages —
– They are faster. The flex wing aircraft are not so aerodynamic, therefore they can’t compete with the fixed wings on speed.
– They are safer. In general the fixed wing airplanes are considered safer than the trikes. They are also less piable to the wind.
– Isolated from the atmosphere. Most fixed wing aircraft have cabins. You can fly even if it is cold or rains. In the trike you are exhibited to the atmosphere and can catch the cold if nothing more.
– It’s a real airplane. Let’s face it, you can’t look serious in an ultralight trike. The airplanes have fixed wings, and everything else is just a microlight toy. (Does that sound like a serious argument? 😉
Both of these categories ultralight airplanes have also their disadvantages. You need to consider them too when buying an aircraft.
— Flex Wing Aircraft Disadvantages —
– Riskier. Because there is less regulation for them, the risk to buy unsafe one is higher.
– Lighter. This is an advantage but also could be a problem. A lighter aircraft is more piable to the strong wind.
– You may need special clothes and equipment. Flying in the open air can require warmer clothes and glasses. Not that this is so bad, is it?
— Fixed Wing Aircraft Disadvantages —
– Expensive. This was said above. Even the simplest fixed wing aircraft costs more than an ultralight trike.
– Need hangar. You just can’t place it in your garage, unless it is very large. You’ll have to pay for hangaring.
– Need a runaway. The fixed wings are just too wide to fit on the road. They need a runaway and this means airport fees.
– Harder to fly. Most fixed wing aircraft have a lot of control that you need to watch. In most cases pilot license is required.
As you see both of the main categories ultralight aircraft have their positives and negatives. They are serving different purposes and never will one replace the another. There is no better or worse type, there is just one that suits better to you.