When I was a kid I wanted to be a pilot. I never imagined how much math was involved in flying. I would go to airshows and imagine what it would be like to fly high and fast. I’m sure many people share a similar story, but I would bet that many don’t recognize the mathematics that pilots have to be familiar with. At least when it comes to flying safely.
If you have a basic understanding of how an airplane functions, all of the systems involved, and the atmospheric conditions that you have to monitor, it can be almost overwhelming when you think about the math involved for a pilot.
An airplane functions on a pressure difference between the air below the wing, and the air above the wing. The shape of the wing creates an area of low pressure above the wing as it moves through the air. Because high pressure air tries to flow towards low pressure areas, it creates a lifting force on the bottom of the wing. The atmospheric conditions can affect this pressure difference and how affective the lifting force is. Temperature, altitude, and humidity can affect the atmospheric pressure and the effective lift on the wing. Obviously, this is one of the most critical functions that a pilot has to be aware of.
One of the most important subsystems in an airplane is the engine. Whether it’s an internal combustion engine, turbine engine, or even electric, the pilot must have an understanding of how the engine works and functions to properly monitor this subsystem within an aircraft. After all, it’s the amount of air that flows over the wing that creates lift. To move the wing through the air, you need forward thrust from the engine. No thrust…no air movement…no lift.
When you look at the guages on some of the most basic aircraft, you’ll get an idea of the different measurements that a pilot will use, and the math skills associated with those measurements. Measurements in altitude, air speed, air pressure, temperature, fuel, frequency, and climb rate can be found.
For more information on just a few of the math skills a pilot uses when flying, try a few of them with the online calculators at CalcuNATION.com.