The airplane has six main parts—fuselage, wings, stabilizer (or tail plane), rudder, one or more engines, and landing gear. The fuselage is the main body of the machine, customarily streamlined in form. It usually contains control equipment, and space for passengers and cargo. The wings are the main supporting surfaces. Modern airplanes are monoplanes (airplanes with one wing) and may be high-wing, mid-wing, or low-wing (relative to the bottom of the fuselage). At the trailing edge of the wings are auxiliary hinged surfaces known as ailerons that are used to gain lateral control and to turn the airplane.
The lift of an airplane, or the force that supports it in flight, is basically the result of the direct action of the air against the surfaces of the wings, which causes air to be accelerated downward. The lift varies with the speed, there being a minimum speed at which flight can be maintained. This is known as the stall speed. Because speed is so important to maintain lift, objects such as fuel tanks and engines, that are carried outside the fuselage are enclosed in structures called nacelles, or pods, to reduce air drag (the retarding force of the air as the airplane moves through it).
Directional stability is provided by the tail fin, a fixed vertical airfoil at the rear of the plane. The stabilizer, or tail plane, is a fixed horizontal airfoil at the rear of the airplane used to suppress undesired pitching motions. To the rear of the stabilizer are usually hinged the elevators, movable auxiliary surfaces that are used to produce controlled pitching. The rudder, generally at the rear of the tail fin, is a movable auxiliary airfoil that gives the craft a yawing (turning about a vertical axis) movement in normal flight. The rear array of airfoils is called the empennage, or tail assembly. Some aircraft have additional flaps near the ailerons that can be lowered during takeoff and landing to augment lift at the cost of increased drag. On some airplanes hinged controls are replaced or assisted by spoilers, which are ridges that can be made to project from airfoils.
Airplane engines may be classified as driven by propeller, jet, turbojet, or rocket. Most engines originally were of the internal-combustion, piston-operated type, which may be air- or liquid-cooled. During and after World War II, duct-type and gas-turbine engines became increasingly important, and since then jet propulsion has become the main form of power in most commercial and military aircraft. The landing gear is the understructure that supports the weight of the craft when on the ground or on the water and that reduces the shock on landing. There are five common types—the wheel, float, boat, skid, and ski types.
Early attempts were made to build flying machines according to the principle of bird flight, but these failed; it was not until the beginning of the 20th cent. that flight in heavier-than-air craft was achieved. On Dec. 17, 1903, the Wright brothers produced the first manned, power-driven, heavier-than-air flying machine near Kitty Hawk, N.C. The first flight lasted 12 sec, but later flights on the same day were a little longer; a safe landing was made after each attempt. The machine was a biplane (an airplane with two main supporting surfaces, or wings) with two propellers chain-driven by a gasoline motor.
The evolution of the airplane engine has had a major effect upon aircraft design, which is closely associated with the ratio between power load (horsepower) and weight. The Wright brothers' first engine weighed about 12 lb (5.4 kg) per horsepower. The modern piston engine weighs about 1 lb (0.4 kg) or less per horsepower, and jet and gas-turbine engines are much lighter. With the use of jet engines and the resulting higher speeds, airplanes have become less dependent on large values of lift from the wings. Consequently, wings have been shortened and swept back so as to produce less drag, especially at supersonic speeds. In some cases these radically backswept wings have evolved into a single triangular lifting surface, known as a delta wing, that is bisected by the fuselage of the plane. Similar alterations have been made in the vertical and horizontal surfaces of the tail, again with the aim of decreasing drag.
For certain applications, e.g., short-haul traffic between small airports, it is desirable to have airplanes capable of operating from a runway of minimum length. Two approaches to the problem have been tried. One, the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) approach, seeks to produce craft that take off and land like helicopters, but that can fly much faster. The other approach, short takeoff and landing (STOL), seeks to design more conventional aircraft that have reduced runway requirements. The lessened lift associated with swept-back wing designs increases the length of runway needed for takeoffs and landings. To keep runway lengths within reasonable limits the variable-sweep, or swing, wing has been developed. A plane of this type can extend its wings for maximum lift in taking off and landing, and swing them back for travel at high speeds.
A proposed variant of the swing wing, in which one wing sweeps to the rear and another forward, produces an arrangement that causes a minimum shock wave at supersonic speeds. It is thought that if this modification were applied to supersonic transport (SST) designs it would somewhat lessen their objectionable noise levels. No solution has been proposed to lessen their high fuel consumption, however. Recent developments in fan-jet engines, in which a turbine powers a set of vanes that drive air rearward to augment thrust, have made supersonic flight possible at low altitude. Much research has also gone into reducing the noise and air pollution caused by jet engines.
See bibliography under aviation.
Airplane! is a 1980 American comedy film directed and written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker. Airplane! starred Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lorna Patterson. For release in Australia, Japan and the Philippines, Airplane! was known as Flying High.
Airplane! was a major financial success, grossing over $83 million in North America alone, against a budget of just $3.5 million. The film's creators received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Comedy, and nominations for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy) and a BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay. Years later, Airplane! was voted as the 10th-funniest American comedy in AFI's "100 Years... 100 Laughs" list and was ranked 6th on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".
Leslie Nielsen saw a major boost to his career, and since then has specialized in playing clueless deadpan bumblers, notably in the six-episode TV series Police Squad! and its film follow-ups, the three Naked Gun movies. Lloyd Bridges and Robert Stack saw similar shifts in their public image, though to lesser degrees.
In 2000, the American Film Institute listed Airplane! as #10 on its list of the 100 funniest American films. In the same year, readers of Total Film voted it the second greatest comedy film of all time. It also came second in the British 50 Greatest Comedy Films poll on Channel 4, beaten by Monty Python's The Life of Brian. Some critics claim the movie's most important achievement was ending the Airport series of movies, which could no longer be taken seriously.
Leslie Nielsen's line, "I am serious...and don't call me Shirley," was 79th on AFI's list of the best 100 movie quotes.Foreign reception Airplane! had an interesting reception outside the U.S. Its translated titles carry sly comment on the nature of the film. For example, in Australia and New Zealand it is titled Flying High; in Germany, it became The Unbelievable Flight in a Crazy Airplane (Die unglaubliche Reise in einem verrückten Flugzeug) ; in French, Croatian, Polish and Slovenian, Is There a Pilot on the Plane? (Fr: Y a-t-il un pilote dans l'avion? , Cro: Ima li pilota u avionu?, Pol: Czy leci z nami pilot?, Slo: Ali je pilot v letalu?); in Portuguese (for release in Brazil), Fasten your seatbelts, the pilot is gone (Apertem os cintos, o piloto sumiu); in Italian, it's The craziest plane in the world (L'aereo più pazzo del mondo); in Finnish, it's Hey, we're flying! (Hei, me lennetään!); in Spanish, it was Land if you can (Aterriza como puedas) in Spain and And where is the pilot? (¿Y dónde está el piloto?) in Latin America; in Norway it became Help, we're flying (Hjelp, vi flyr); in Swedish it's Look, we're flying (Titta vi flyger); in Czech it is Fasten your seatbelts, please (Připoutejte se, prosím), in the UK it's still called Airplane! however the correct term is Aeroplane in the UK, this has lead to some people believing the name was misspelled for comedic effect.
The Spanish adaptation Aterriza como puedas set a title pattern for several following parodies: A few examples include The Naked Gun film series, known as Agárralo como puedas, Spy Hard as Espía como puedas, 2001: A Space Travesty as 2001, Despega como puedas, Jane Austen's Mafia! as Mafia, Estafa como puedas.
Airplane! has an impressive 98% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
MaximOnline.com named the airplane crash in Airplane! #4 on its list of "Most Horrific Movie Plane Crashes.
As the film's creators explain in the DVD commentary for Airplane!, they discovered Zero Hour! when they were taping late-night commercials to spoof. They then bought the rights to it. Airplane! lifts its major characters and most of its story line from Zero Hour!. Many of the best known straight lines of Airplane! are repeated verbatim, for example, "Can you face some unpleasant facts?" and "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking." The "wrong week" line becomes a running gag — as the emergency escalates, so does the potency of the drug ("Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking/drinking/amphetamines/sniffin' glue.")
The scene where emergency vehicles scramble onto the tarmac begins as a direct recreation of a similar sequence in the John Wayne film The High and the Mighty, though the Airplane! version quickly turns absurd as more and more bizarre vehicles join the emergency response.
Other targets of the parody include:
Robert Stack initially played his role differently to what the directors had in mind. They played him a tape of impressionist John Byner "doing" Robert Stack. According to the producers, Stack was "doing an impression of John Byner doing an impression of Stack.
The plane (model and real) used throughout the movie was a TWA Boeing 707 model operating as a fictional airline in the movie called Trans American Airlines; the plane taking off with "The End" credit is not a 707 (which has four engines), but a Boeing 727 tri-jet. The ambient noise of the plane is not a jet but a piston engine, was taken from the soundtrack of Zero Hour!, making it the longest running gag in the movie.
Several other cameos add to the humor through against-type casting. Ethel Merman, in her last film appearance, shows up as a soldier who is convinced he's Ethel Merman. Barbara Billingsley, known as June Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver, makes an appearance as a woman who announces she "speaks jive" and would be willing to translate. Maureen McGovern not only appears in a cameo as Sister Angelina (a spoof of the nun in Airport 1975), but as a play on her involvement as the singer of the Oscar-winning songs for big-budget disaster films, The Poseidon Adventure (1972) ("The Morning After") and The Towering Inferno (1974) ("We May Never Love Like This Again"). Jimmie Walker cameos as the man opening the hood of the plane and checking the oil before takeoff (Walker also had a minor role in the 'serious' air disaster film, The Concorde: Airport '79).