Understanding Airplane Wings
Different airplanes have wings of different shapes and sizes. Airplanes might have straight, swept, or delta shaped wings according to their requirements. However, all types of wings have the same basic parts. Wings are attached to the fuselage of the airplane. The edge where the wing is attached to the airplane is known as the root whereas the edge at the other end of the wing is known as the wing tip. The forward line that connects the wing tip and the root is known as the leading edge and the line that connects the tip to the root at the back of the wing is known as the trailing edge. These edges are used to define boundaries of the wings and are also used as references.
The airfoil, as mentioned earlier, is the cross-sectional area of the wings, perpendicular to the leading edge. Airfoils are curved in shape and the amount of curvature varies with the type of wings. The curved surface on the top makes the air pass faster and thus generate less pressure than that at the bottom of the wing, thus producing the lift.
Another important part of airplane wings are the ailerons, which are small flaps attached at the trailing edge of the wings. Ailerons are controlled by the pilot and are moved up or down along the hinges to control the amount of lift generated by the wings and to roll the wings from side to side. In order to assist in this process, most of the airplanes also use spoilers, which are small plates hinged over the top of the wings, used for generating a rolling motion for the airplane.
Apart from this, the wings also have flaps along the trailing edges and towards the root of the wings. The flaps are used to obtain maximum lift during lower speeds, especially during landing or takeoff. They extend and thus change the airfoil shape of the wings, reducing the pressure at the top and increasing the lift. Just like flaps, slats are also attached at the leading edges of the wings and are used for obtaining additional lift.
Image Credits : wings parts at centennial off light website (http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Theories_of_Flight/airplane/TH2G9.jpg)