Fixed-wing aircraft

A Boeing 737 airliner is an example of a fixed-wing aircraft
Delta (triangular) kite
Boys flying a kite in 1828 Bavaria, by Johann Michael Voltz
Le Bris and his glider, Albatros II, photographed by Nadar, 1868
Wright Flyer III piloted by Orville Wright over Huffman Prairie, 4 October 1905
Santos-Dumont's self-propelled 14-bis on an old postcard
Curtiss NC-4 flying boat after it completed the first crossing of the Atlantic in 1919, standing next to a fixed-wing heavier-than-air aircraft
Aircraft parked on the ground in Afghanistan
A glider (sailplane) being winch-launched
Ultralight "airchair" Goat 1 glider
A 1943 USAAF Waco CG-4A
Hang gliding
A kite in flight
Chinese dragon kite more than one hundred feet long which flew in the Berkeley, California, kite festival in 2000
A quad-line traction kite, commonly used as a power source for kite surfing
Train of connected kites
The IAI Heron is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a twin-boom configuration
The An-225 Mriya, the largest airplane in the world, which can carry a 250-tonne payload, has two vertical stabilizers
Captured Morane-Saulnier L wire-braced parasol monoplane
Two Dassault Mirage G prototypes, one with wings swept (top)
The US-produced B-2 Spirit, a strategic bomber capable of intercontinental missions, has a flying wing configuration
Computer-generated model of the Boeing X-48
The Martin Aircraft Company X-24 was built as part of a 1963–1975 experimental US military program
Canards on the Saab Viggen
Typical light aircraft (Cessna 150M) cockpit with control yokes
The six basic flight instruments. Top row (left to right): airspeed indicator, attitude indicator, altimeter. Bottom row (left to right): turn coordinator, heading indicator, vertical speed indicator.

Heavier-than-air flying machine, such as an airplane, which is capable of flight using wings that generate lift caused by the aircraft's forward airspeed and the shape of the wings.

- Fixed-wing aircraft

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Heavier-than-air aircraft with rotary wings or rotor blades, which generate lift by rotating around a vertical mast.

An AS332 helicopter Bond Helicopters landing at Sumburgh Airport, Scotland
A Magni two-seat autogyro
Fairey Rotodyne prototype

An autogyro (sometimes called gyrocopter, gyroplane, or rotaplane) utilizes an unpowered rotor, driven by aerodynamic forces in a state of autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust.


Reaction force described quantitatively by Newton's third law.

A Pratt & Whitney F100 jet engine being tested. This engine produces a jet of gas to generate thrust. Its purpose is to propel a jet airplane. This particular model turbofan engine powers McDonnell Douglas F-15 and General Dynamics F-16 fighters both.

A fixed-wing aircraft propulsion system generates forward thrust when air is pushed in the direction opposite to flight.


Vehicle or machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the most produced aircraft in history.
The Mil Mi-8 is the most-produced helicopter in history.
Hot air balloons
Airship USS Akron over Manhattan in the 1930s
An Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner
Aircraft parked on the ground in Afghanistan
An autogyro
X-24B lifting body
Sailplane (Rolladen-Schneider LS4)
A turboprop-engined DeHavilland Twin Otter adapted as a floatplane
Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor
Airframe diagram for an AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter
The Boeing 777-200LR is one of the longest-range airliners, capable of flights of more than halfway around the world.
The empennage of a Boeing 747-200
Boeing B-17E in flight
Agusta A109 helicopter of the Swiss air rescue service
A model aircraft, weighing six grams

Aerodynamic lift involving wings is the most common, with fixed-wing aircraft being kept in the air by the forward movement of wings, and rotorcraft by spinning wing-shaped rotors sometimes called rotary wings.

Wright brothers

Orville Wright (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), together known as the Wright brothers, were American aviation pioneers generally credited with inventing, building, and flying the world's first successful motor-operated airplane.

Wright brothers' home at 7 Hawthorn Street, Dayton about 1900. Wilbur and Orville built the covered wrap-around porch in the 1890s.
The Wright brothers' bicycle at the National Air and Space Museum
Wright 1899 kite: front and side views, with control sticks. Wing-warping is shown in lower view. (Wright brothers drawing in Library of Congress)
Park Ranger Tom White demonstrates a replica of the Wright brothers 1899 box kite at the Wright Brothers National Memorial
Chanute's hang glider of 1896. The pilot may be Augustus Herring.
The 1900 glider. No photo was taken with a pilot aboard.
Replica of the Wright brothers' wind tunnel at the Virginia Air and Space Center
At left, 1901 glider flown by Wilbur (left) and Orville. At right, 1902 glider flown by Wilbur (right) and Dan Tate, their helper. Dramatic improvement in performance is apparent. The 1901 glider flies at a steep angle of attack due to poor lift and high drag. In contrast, the 1902 glider flies at a much flatter angle and holds up its tether lines almost vertically, clearly demonstrating a much better lift-to-drag ratio.
Wilbur Wright pilots the 1902 glider over the Kill Devil Hills, October 10, 1902. The single rear rudder is steerable; it replaced the original fixed double rudder.
Wilbur makes a turn using wing-warping and the movable rudder, October 24, 1902.
A Wright engine, serial number 17, c. 1910, on display at the New England Air Museum
The first flight of the Wright Flyer, December 17, 1903, Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip.
famous photograph
Orville's notebook entry of December 17, 1903
Orville in flight over Huffman Prairie in Wright Flyer II. Flight 85, approximately 1760 ft in 40 1⁄5 seconds, November 16, 1904.
Wilbur flying almost four circles of Huffman Prairie, about 2 3⁄4 miles in 5 minutes 4 seconds; flight 82, November 9, 1904.
Wilbur's logbook showing diagram and data for first circle flight on September 20, 1904
Wright Flyer III piloted by Orville over Huffman Prairie, October 4, 1905. Flight #46, covering 20 3⁄4 miles in 33 minutes 17 seconds; the last photographed flight of the year
The Dayton Daily News reported the October 5 flight on page 9, with agriculture and business news.
The modified 1905 Flyer at the Kill Devil Hills in 1908, ready for practice flights. Note there is no catapult derrick; all takeoffs were used with the monorail alone.
Soaring flight, Kitty Hawk, Oct. 1911 "Arrows indicate [the] 50 mile[ per hour] wind, showing how [the] machine was sustained in a stationary position".
Orville demonstrating the flyer to the U.S. Army, Fort Myer, Virginia September 1908. Photo: by C.H. Claudy.
Hart O. Berg (left), the Wrights' European business agent, and Wilbur at the flying field near Le Mans.
The Fort Myer crash. Photo by C.H. Claudy.
The Wright Model A Flyer flown by Wilbur 1908–1909 and launching derrick, France, 1909
Wrights' 1906 US patent 821393
The Wright brothers at the Belmont Park Aviation Meet in 1910 near New York
Elwood Doherty, a Curtiss pilot, coaxes the structurally modified Langley Aerodrome into the air above the surface of Keuka Lake near Hammondsport, New York, September 17, 1914.
Pieces of fabric and wood from the 1903 Wright Flyer traveled to the Moon in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle, and are exhibited at the Wright Brothers National Memorial
The original 1903 Wright Flyer in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
The back of the US Airman Certificate with a picture of the Wright brothers.
Orville Wright, 1928
The Wright family plot at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
Aircraft certification for the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, April 2021

In 1904–1905, the Wright brothers developed their flying machine to make longer-running and more aerodynamic flights with the Wright Flyer II, followed by the first truly practical fixed-wing aircraft, the Wright Flyer III.


Low wing on a Curtiss P-40
Parasol wing on a Pietenpol Air Camper
The Santos-Dumont Demoiselle was the first production monoplane (replica shown).
The Junkers J 1 monoplane pioneered all-metal construction in 1915.

A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration with a single mainplane, in contrast to a biplane or other types of multiplanes, which have multiple planes.

Wing configuration

The Spitfire wing may be classified as: "a conventional low-wing cantilever monoplane with unswept elliptical wings of moderate aspect ratio and slight dihedral".
Various minor surfaces
High-lift devices
Spanwise flow control device
Vortex devices
Drag-reduction devices

The wing configuration of a fixed-wing aircraft (including both gliders and powered aeroplanes) is its arrangement of lifting and related surfaces.

Fighter aircraft

An F-16 Fighting Falcon (left), P-51D Mustang (bottom), F-86 Sabre (top), and F-22 Raptor (right) fly in a formation representing four generations of American fighters.
Airco DH.2 "pusher" scout
The USAF Lockheed Martin F-35A
SPAD S.A.2, with gunner in "basket" up front
Jules Védrines in his Nieuport 16, armed with a Lewis, after clearing the front line of German observation balloons with the first rocket attack in history
A replica German Fokker Dr.I
Nieuport-Delage NiD.52, which in various forms would be used through the 20s and into the 1930s by various European air arms, including that of the French and Spanish.
A Messerschmitt Bf 109E warbird demonstrator
A Supermarine Spitfire, typical World War II fighter optimized for high level speeds and good climb rates.
Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat, early 1942
North American P-51D Mustang during WWII
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was one of the fastest aircraft of WWII.
The Gloster Meteor was Britain’s first jet fighter and the Allies' only jet aircraft used during World War II
English Electric Lightning
U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II
The U.S. Air Force McDonnell F-15 Eagle
A MiG-31 of the Russian Air Force
An F/A-18C Hornet
The Dassault Rafale over RIAT in 2009
Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor at the 2008 Joint Services Open House airshow
Chengdu J-20 at the 2018 airshow in China
The Sukhoi Su-57 of the Russian Air Force
M61 20 mm gun installation on West German Lockheed F-104G Starfighter
AIM-9 Sidewinder (underwing pylon) and AIM-120 AMRAAM (wingtip) carried by lightweight F-16 fighter
An MBDA Meteor, an ARH BVR AAM used on the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS 39 Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-35, and Dassault Rafale
The Chengdu J-20 of the People's Liberation Army Air Force

Fighter aircraft are fixed-wing military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat.

Glider (aircraft)

Single-seat high performance fiberglass Glaser-Dirks DG-808 glider over the Lac de Serre Ponçon in the French Alps
Aerobatic glider with tip smoke, pictured on July 2, 2005 in Lappeenranta, Finland
Otto Lilienthal in flight
Smallest glider in the world - BrO-18 "Boružė" (Ladybird), constructed in Lithuania in 1975
Ultralight "airchair" Sandlin Goat 1 glider
Modern 'flexible wing' hang glider.
A paraglider taking off in Brazil
Waco CG-4A of the USAF
Horten Ho IV flying wing sailplane prone seating glider
Me 163B on display at the National Museum of the USAF

A glider is a fixed-wing aircraft that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine.


North American P-51 Mustang, a World War II fighter aircraft
The first flight of an airplane, the Wright Flyer on December 17, 1903
An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-300ER taking off from New York JFK Airport
Le Bris and his glider, Albatros II, photographed by Nadar, 1868
Otto Lilienthal in mid-flight, c. 1895
Patent drawings of Clement Ader's Éole.
Santos-Dumont 14-bis, between 1906 and 1907
The Concorde supersonic transport aircraft
An Antonov An-2 biplane
Solar Impulse 1, a solar-powered aircraft with electric motors.
Artist's concept of X-43A with scramjet attached to the underside
Bell X-1 in flight, 1947
Assembly line of the SR-71 Blackbird at Skunk Works, Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs (ADP).
An Airbus A321 on final assembly line 3 in the Airbus Hamburg-Finkenwerder plant.
An IAI Heron - an unmanned aerial vehicle with a twin-boom configuration
The An-225 Mriya, which can carry a 250-tonne payload, has two vertical stabilizers.
Captured Morane-Saulnier L wire-braced parasol monoplane
Two Dassault Mirage G prototypes, one with wings swept
The US-produced B-2 Spirit is a strategic bomber. It has a flying wing configuration and is capable of intercontinental missions
Computer-generated model of the Boeing X-48
The Martin Aircraft Company X-24 was built as part of a 1963 to 1975 experimental US military program.
Canards on the Saab Viggen
A light aircraft (Robin DR400/500) cockpit
Water vapor contrails left by high-altitude jet airliners. These may contribute to cirrus cloud formation.

An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine, propeller, or rocket engine.

Lift (force)

Object exerts a force on it.

The 1902 Wright Glider shows its lift by pulling up
Lift is defined as the component of the aerodynamic force that is perpendicular to the flow direction, and drag is the component that is parallel to the flow direction.
A cross-section of a wing defines an airfoil shape.
When an airfoil generates lift, it deflects air downwards, and to do this it must exert a downward force on the air. Newton's third law requires that the air must exert an equal upward force on the airfoil.
An illustration of the incorrect equal transit-time explanation of airfoil lift.
Streamlines and streamtubes around an airfoil generating lift. Note the narrower streamtubes above and the wider streamtubes below.
Angle of attack of an airfoil
An airfoil with camber compared to a symmetrical airfoil
Airflow separating from a wing at a high angle of attack
Flow around an airfoil: the dots move with the flow. The black dots are on time slices, which split into two – an upper and lower part – at the leading edge. A marked speed difference between the upper-and lower-surface streamlines is shown most clearly in the image animation, with the upper markers arriving at the trailing edge long before the lower ones. Colors of the dots indicate streamlines.
Pressure field around an airfoil. The lines are isobars of equal pressure along their length. The arrows show the pressure differential from high (red) to low (blue) and hence also the net force which causes the air to accelerate in that direction.
Comparison of a non-lifting flow pattern around an airfoil; and a lifting flow pattern consistent with the Kutta condition in which the flow leaves the trailing edge smoothly
Circulation component of the flow around an airfoil
Cross-section of an airplane wing-body combination showing the isobars of the three-dimensional lifting flow
Cross-section of an airplane wing-body combination showing velocity vectors of the three-dimensional lifting flow
Euler computation of a tip vortex rolling up from the trailed vorticity sheet
Planview of a wing showing the horseshoe vortex system
Control volumes of different shapes that have been used in analyzing the momentum balance in the 2D flow around a lifting airfoil. The airfoil is assumed to exert a downward force −L' per unit span on the air, and the proportions in which that force is manifested as momentum fluxes and pressure differences at the outer boundary are indicated for each different shape of control volume.
Illustration of the distribution of higher-than-ambient pressure on the ground under an airplane in subsonic flight

Lift is mostly associated with the wings of fixed-wing aircraft, although it is more widely generated by many other streamlined bodies such as propellers, kites, helicopter rotors, racing car wings, maritime sails, wind turbines, and by sailboat keels, ship's rudders, and hydrofoils in water.