The Science of Flight: Aeronautical Engineering, Aerodynamics, & Rocket Science
Many of us board a plane without understanding what an extraordinary experience flight is: suspended 30,000 feet or more in the air, propelled to a destination at close to the speed of sound, protected from extreme cold and low pressure by the thin skin of the aircraft. Even more remarkable is space flight and its associated discipline -- rocket science. Aviation has advanced hand-in-hand with our growing understanding of the physics of flight—what causes lift, how to reduce drag, the complex events in the transonic realm. This makes NASM the ideal laboratory for explaining revolutionary milestones—from the three-axis control system of the original Wright Flyer that made winged flight practical; to the supercharged Rolls Royce Merlin engine that gave the P-51 Mustang a winning edge in World War II; to the thermal tile system that allowed the Space Shuttle to survive dozens of reentries from space. The Great Courses’ class on the science of flight is taught by award-winning educator James W. Gregory, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State University. An instrument-rated private pilot as well as an engineer, Professor Gregory gives as thorough an explanation of the principles of flight, rocketry, and related topics as you’ll get outside of flight school. Incisive commentary from NASM experts puts everything from airfoils to orbits into a fascinating historical context. Professor Gregory explains how they work at a fundamental level, down to the equations that govern phenomena such as wing loading, parasitic drag, induced drag, power in a reciprocating engine, and thrust in a jet or rocket engine. Using almost no higher mathematics than high-school-level algebra, Dr. Gregory demonstrates how aeronautical engineers think, analyzing forces to predict exactly what will happen with a particular airfoil, structural material, power plant, and scores of other design features. Dr. Gregory’s approach will enlighten even aviation beginners to the wonders of aeronautical engineering and the science of flight.
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