Ask almost any certified flight instructor (CFI) what makes an airplane fly and they’ll usually tell you about Bernoulli’s principle while trying desperately to change the subject. Then they ramble on about low pressure on top of the wing, high pressure on the bottom, laminar airflow, blah blah blah. The conversation quickly turns to today’s lesson plan. Guess what? – You are flying to their favorite airport restaurant offering free burgers to instructors bringing students…again.

The investigative team at Aviation Daily News has been trying to find out what makes an airplane fly. We called the FAA but all we got was a voicemail saying they were closed for the shutdown, indefinitely. Which is convenient when you don’t want journalists asking questions you can’t answer.

Continuing our research we found this document titled “Principles of Flight” on the FAA website. Pages 5-9 contain many words and pictures regaling the reader with tales of Daniel Bernoulli and Sir Isaac Newton, yet nothing about Henri Coandă, whose work on the Coanda Effect is the most relevant to every explanation of lift. Thanks for nothing FAA!

An excerpt of the document summary is below; however, it basically says ‘Go ask NASA’.