What Is the Path Taken by a Flying Object?

The path taken by a flying object in motion on the surface of the Earth is called a parabola. A parabola is a symmetrical arc, and the trajectory of flying objects with negligible air resistance in a gravitational field, as on the surface of the Earth, follows this path.

Throwing an object upward on the surface of the Earth introduces two forces on the object — an upward force that is opposed by the force of gravity and a forward force. Eventually, the gravitational force will overcome the upward force. The arc of the object's path is a parabola.

The first research on parabolic trajectories was done in the early 17th century by noted Italian physicist and mathematician Galileo Galilei; some of his initial experiments involved rolling uniform balls along inclined planes.