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How does a plane fly?

An airliner takes off from San Francisco AirportAn airliner takes off from San Francisco AirportClick to play videoA heavy aeroplane is able to fly because of the shape of its wings. When the plane is powered forward by its engines at high speed, a force called lift causes it to take off. As long as it carries on moving at high speed, it will stay airborne.

How lift is producedHow lift is produced


As the plane moves forwards, air flows over and under each wing. Because of the wing’s curved shape, air flowing over it moves faster than air flowing under it. This means that air flowing over the wing will have lower pressure than air flowing under it. An upward force, called lift, is the result.

A Russian cargo aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya, is the largest and heaviest plane ever built. It has a wingspan of 88 m (290 ft). Its maximum take-off weight (including cargo) is 640,000 kg (1,410,958 pounds)—the equivalent of 160 African elephants.

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