Newton's Laws, Pitched Wings, and "Lift"
The aerodynamic lift produced by the motion of a pitched, or tilted, wing moving through air can
be understood directly through Newton's Laws
Consider a pitched wing moving through stationary air at a constant speed, v. From the point
of view of the wing, it is not moving. Rather, the air is rushing by it with net speed v in
the opposite direction.
Air is made up of many molecules and atoms that follow Newton's Laws of Motion. Newton's second law
says that each molecule hitting the wing experiences an acceleration proportional to the force of
contact, and inversely proportional to its own mass.*
Newton's third law tells us that the wing experiences a force that is equal in size but opposite
in direction to that felt by the molecule.** While an individual collision of a molecule has little
effect, putting billions of billions of impacts together each second does have a real effect - known