Flight of the Frisbee Essay

1477 Words Jul 6th, 2005 6 Pages
Spinning objects such as Frisbees possess unique flying characteristics. They are in essence spinning wings gliding in mid-air propelled by the forces of torque and aerodynamic lift. The relationship between Newton's Laws of Motion and the flight of the Frisbee will be discussed. This paper will attempt to highlight and show the different physical motions involved behind the spinning edge of the Frisbee and the similar forces it shares with other heavier winged objects. Lastly, how major improvements in the redesign of the Frisbee contributed to its increased stability and precision in its flight in the air.

The Flight of the Frisbee Objects that fly are designed to push air down. The momentum of the air going
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In order for a Frisbee to fly straight and stay in the air, its center of aerodynamic lift must remain near its center of gravity over a wide range of airspeeds and angles of attack. Thrust is the other positive force which propels the Frisbee forward, a momentum generated by the arm and elbow motion that launches the disk towards its direction of flight. In addition, the quick spring-release action of the wrist and fingers on the Frisbee is a key contributing factor to setting the Frisbee into a spinning motion. This physically powered and precise twist is transferred to the Frisbee in order to launch the disk spinning at the highest possible angular velocity. Angular velocity is the term used to measure the Frisbee's rate of spin expressed in revolutions per minute (RPM). Prior to the Frisbee taking flight, "the net force required behind each twist is formulated based on how quickly the disk is able to reach its full speed or angular acceleration, versus how much the Frisbee resists being twisted or in this case the rotational inertia" (Fisher & Phillips, 2003, p. 12). As indicated by Newton's First Law of Motion, inertia is the tendency of the Frisbee at rest to remain at rest and while it is in motion to remain in motion. As such, the amount of twisting force that is needed to produce the highest possible spin on the Frisbee is described as the torque. The torque

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