Understanding Airplane Stalls

Airplane joystick in cockpit of a plane

There are some key differences to understanding the difference between a stall in your car and a stall in an airplane. When your car stalls, it slows until it comes to a complete stop. When an airplane stalls, it stops flying and starts dropping. The forces that must act in concert for a plane to fly are:

Lift (overcoming gravity)

Thrust (the power of the engine)

Drag (the resistance of the air)

All airplanes are a balance of these three factors. When controlled through all phases of flight from takeoff to cruise and landing, flight is safe and dependable. However, when the normal parameters of operation are not balanced, an airplane can “stall” and stop flying at any point in operation. Recovery from a stall in an airplane is straight forward. Put the nose down and add power to gain speed to regain lift in the wing. This, of course, takes room which is why Pilots practice stalling at a high enough altitude to recover!

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