I’ve previously blogged about how airplanes take off against the wind. It seems counterintuitive … you would expect that it would be easier if the wind were coming from behind the aircraft, giving it a push. Yet in reality, it is easier for a pilot to take off when flying towards a full-force gale, rather than with it. Well, turns out that the physics of flying a kite is actually similar to that of flying an airplane.
The science behind the flight of kites is not only interesting, but also offers a powerful lesson in leadership and an alternate perspective on dealing with the numerous difficult situations in which you face resistance, opposition, setbacks and delays in the things you are trying to accomplish. There are four forces that counteract each other in order for flight to occur. Lift and weight act vertically, and drag and thrust act horizontally.
As wind moves over the body of the kite, speed differences means that the air pressure above the kite is less than the pressure below, and as a result an upward force is created called lift. At the same time, the downward gravitational force of weight pulls the kite towards the earth. Thrust is the forward force that propels the kite in the direction of motion. While an airplane generates thrust with its engines, a kite must rely on wind or failing that, running by the kite flyer. Drag is the backward force that occurs due to the friction of the air movement.
What does it take to stay in the air?
Two things must happen for a kite to stay aloft. Continue reading